A North Shore resident wants his neighbours to stand up to criminals, and he’s leading by example.
On Saturday the resident, who wants to remain nameless for safety reasons, called police to alert them to blatant drug dealing going on in front of the public library.
When an RCMP member arrived, the suspect had entered the library where he joined about 10 of his cohorts. The officer called for backup, saying he knew they had a history of violence, according to the witness.
Despite the danger, when police said they required a face-to-face identification, the witness boldly walked into the library and pointed out the man he’d seen dealing drugs.
While police dealt with the suspect outside, the rest of the group followed the witness out, berating and threatening him.
“They took my pictures with cellphones, told me they took down my licence plate (number), that sort of stuff,” he said.
The suspect was released since he had no drugs on him. (“Probably passed it off to a buddy,” said the witness.)
But police confiscated the bottle of liquor he was carrying, said RCMP Staff Sgt. Grant Learned, “because it’s a catalyst to problem behaviour with that guy.”
The next day, the witness changed his licence plate.
Nevertheless, he said he has no regrets and believes that the only way to avoid violence is for individuals to stick their necks out.
“The only real danger is by not doing anything and pretending we don't see what's happening. If these kind of activities are allowed to continue unchecked, someone is going to be seriously hurt,” he said.
“I believe as members of the community we need to make it abundantly clear that . . . we are watching and we will report any and all occurrences to the police.”
Acting as a witness may seem risky but it’s sometimes the only way to effectively deal with such a situation.
“Classic case in point are people who call in about problem drivers,” said Learned. “They see the driver, they identify the vehicle, they provide a licence plate. Yet they still have to be prepared to provide evidence in courts because they’re the ones who witnessed the offence.”
The North Shore Business Improvement Association has launched several initiatives to try to curb crime and has often called on neighbourhoods to join in the fight.
It’s had some positive results, like a noticeable reduction in the visibility of prostitution.
Former BIA manager Peter Mutrie reasserted the approach to crime prevention on Saturday during the a recent Ideas Festival organized by Coun. Arjun Singh at the Thompson Rivers University Irving Barber Centre.
Mutrie said if people connect with one another, it builds a stronger, more caring society.
"We're all in this together.”