Pubdate: Wed, 06 Sep 2006
Source: Esquimalt News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Esquimalt News
Author: Brennan Clarke
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Safe Injecting Rooms)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Police Call For More Education, Treatment Options For

Safe-injection site proponents in Vancouver and Victoria will have to
forge ahead without the support of rank-and-file police officers
across the country.

Around 200 delegates at the Canadian Police Association's annual
general meeting in Victoria voted unanimously Friday to oppose
safe-injection sites and called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to
create a national drug strategy focusing on education, treatment and

"Safe-injection sites are not going to solve the drug issues in our
community," said CPA vice-president Const. Tom Stamaktakis. "This is a
significant issue for our members."

Stamatakis, a Vancouver police officer and president of the Vancouver
Police Union, said rank-and-file officers have seen few positive
results from his city's three-year experiment with legalized drug use
at a facility known as InSite.

"We're not seeing improvements as a result of the safe-injection
site," he said. "In our experience, myself and the other officers that
work those streets, things are worse than they've ever been."

Safe-injection sites are seen as one aspect of harm-reduction regime
dubbed the four pillars approach.

Stamatakis said officers say the other three pillars - education,
prevention and treatment - are being pushed aside in favour of
legalized drug use.

"There's a sense of pervasiveness, entitlement and enabling," he said.
"Our officers are unanimous in their feeling about how destructive and
devastating these drugs are. This sends the wrong message to young
people about drug use."

InSite, which operates under a special exemption from a section of the
Canada Health Act that bans illegal drug consumption in health-care
facilities, will have to close up shop Sept. 12 if Ottawa decides not
to extend the pilot project.

Despite uncertainty over the future of InSite, the City of Victoria,
the Vancouver Island Health Authority and the University of Victoria
have joined forces on a safe-injection site study that will accompany
Victoria's application for a Health Canada exemption next spring.

Victoria police Chief Paul Battershill, a staunch advocate of
harm-reduction approach in dealing with street level addiction issues,
said any such facility in Victoria would have to maintain a sharp
focus on all four harm reduction pillars.

"I have spoken to the police association representatives in regard to
the safe injection site issue. They are concerned that other pieces
such as prevention, education and treatment have not been proceeded
with and they question the value of a safe-injection site without the
other pieces," Battershill said.

"I think we would try very hard here to ensure that the other
components are in place here in Victoria if we are successful with a
safe-injection site application." 
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