HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html West Van Police Want Landlords To Join War On Renters' Pot
Pubdate: Tue, 11 Jul 2000
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: The Vancouver Sun 2000
Contact:  200 Granville Street, Ste.#1, Vancouver BC V6C 3N3
Fax: (604) 605-2323
Author: Glenn Bohn


West Vancouver police want landlords and property managers to register their
rental properties to help police uncover marijuana growing operations.

But the B.C. Civil Liberties Association charged  Monday that the crime
prevention program unfairly targets all renters.

"We see that as wrong and inappropriate," said Murray Mollard, the
association's policy director.

"There's no reason or justification for that extra scrutiny. It's in
opposition to principles of a free and democratic society, in which you're
free to go about your business without a heightened state of police
scrutiny, unless there's some justification."

So far this year, West Van police have discovered 24 marijuana growing
operations from Horseshoe Bay to British Properties, compared to 12 in all
of 1999.

Police note that all the illegal operations to date have been located in
rental properties that have been seriously damaged or destroyed, causing
financial devastation for property owners.

Last week, the police department launched an initiative it calls Rental
Watch - a rental property version of the Block Watch program already in
place in many neighbourhoods in Canada.

Landlords and property managers are being asked to register the addresses of
their rental properties with police.  Once, registered, they'll be given an
information package that outlines ways to screen out tenants suspected of
planning to grow marijuana in a rented home.  Approved tenants are to be
told the property is registered with Rental Watch, and landlords are to
watch for suspicious activities when the tenant moves in.

Landlords will also give the neighbours of their rental properties a form
letter on police letterhead.  In the letter, neighbors are invited to
contact the landlord if they have any problems with the property - or
contact police if they have "questions or concerns about criminal activity."

And, like other police departments that give out pamphlets and hold
seminars, West Van police are asking landlords to visit their properties
regularly and watch for signs of a marijuana growing operation, such as an
electricity meter spinning unusually fast, or never moving at all.

The new crime prevention program was proposed by Corporal Janis Jean, the
department's Block Watch coordinator.

Jean wouldn't disclose how many officers in the 77-officer police department
are currently assigned to track down marijuana growing operations, or
whether the rental properties registered will be the subject of extra
patrols or surveillance by police.

"We'll certainly be committing resources to that information," Jean said in
an interview.  "We don't want to divulge any other specifics, because it
would negate the purpose of the registration program."

Mollard said Jean was less vague in a conversation he had with her, and
suggested that registered rental properties would be subject to more
drive-by surveillance.

Mollard conceded it may be logical for police to target rental properties
for more surveillance, because all the marijuana growing operations found to
date have been in rental accommodation.

But he also said: "The assumption has to be, with all rental properties,
that they're law-abiding citizens, until there's information to prove

Last February, Langley city councillors considered a proposed bylaw that
would have allowed police, landlords and city officials to enter renters'
homes, but the bylaw has yet to be passed.

At the time, the president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association doubted
whether the bylaw would ever be enacted or stand up in the courts, because
the laws and constitution of Canada require police to obtain a search
warrant before entering a private dwelling.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk