Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Twenty-six women and one response

A source "close" to the Pickton case, "close" because he or she is in BC and I (sigh) am still in Ontario, responded to my last blog post.

I read your post today with great interest.

One day, you and I will have to sit down over a coffee, and I will tell you what it's like trying to find someone who has no address, no home, no identification, doesn't go by their real name, has no job, no car, no mailbox, no "social circle", and whose only "friends" have no intention of cooperating with the police.

The first question I have asked every time I see news coverage of the grieving families at the Pickton trial is "where were those families before their loved ones were killed?". There has been no mention in any of the coverage of what steps those families had taken, or were taking, at the time of the disappearances.

It is very easy to point at VPD and say "they did nothing", but you have to remember that VPD members are police officers, not social workers. By the time VPD became involved with any of these women (as prostitutes and addicts), they were basically at the point where salvation was only a remote possibility. The "return" rate for sex trade workers and addicts is tiny, and no police department has the resources to deal with the out-of-control population of "street people".

I look at what we deal with, it is a fraction of what they have to deal with in Vancouver, and we have zero resources. If it were not for the charities, some of the churches, and a few private citizens, nothing at all would be done.

Without the wholehearted financial support of all levels of government, as well as significant changes to the mindsets of our BC judges, nothing will change.

And, most importantly, nothing will ever happen without the wholehearted commitment of the individual to change... without that commitment, every penny spent will be wasted.

I agree that some things could have been done differently, but by the time Kim Rossmo pointed out the anomaly, it was too late for the bulk of those women.

We'd probably need more than one coffee to go over this one!

I jumped for joy, because someone responded to what I wrote! Then I read the response and realized the writer had not agreed 100 per cent with what I said. So, I laid down on the floor, curled up in the foetal position and cried a bit. After that, I responded to what my source had said:

Thanks for reading and taking the time to respond.

I respect the work of the police, and empathize with the situations of front line officers. I recognize the challenges of dealing with the public from my experiences in my previous work-life, and I know that I was only dealing with a certain demographic in a situation which, at worst, might have someone say something impolite to me. I shudder to imagine what you see on a regular basis.

I'm sure I didn't make my point clear. I'm behind in my blog writing, not only for my own blog but for the course-related blog, so I may have written and posted the last two (or more) blogs hastily. The point I was hoping to make was that there are 65 women missing from the Downtown Eastside since 1978 (according to Stevie Cameron's book The Pickton File) and it wouldn't have been tolerated anywhere else in the Lower Mainland.

Admittedly, the Downtown Eastside has issues that can allow a person to be missing for a considerable time before action could be taken, but when the anomaly was obvious, the VPD wouldn't publicly issue a warning. Also, admittedly, there has to be a pattern to detect before Rossmo's software kicks in, but mightn't the pattern have been obvious at 20, 30 or 40? Back when Rossmo was creating the software as part of his doctorate while working on the Downtown Eastside.

Finally, I didn't mean to imply front line officers were not doing their job, but there did, and I think, still does seem to be systemic problems within the VPD.

The very final (I promise) concern I have, which I never got around to because I had achieved my word limit in the blog, was that women are still going missing. In other cities in Canada, there are concerns with street prostitutes disappearing (Regina and Edmonton come to mind, but it's 1:30am here, and I have to be back at school early to finish two websites by Wednesday night, so I'm not sifting through a Google search for "prostitutes" and "Regina Edmonton" right now. Sorry.)

Yes, let's do have coffee. Actually, could I have a beer instead while sitting on your back deck watching the lighting?

Thanks again for reading and responding. Keep me honest! I hope I've made my point clear, I think, fundamentally, we share common ground, but are getting there different ways.

Yes, that's a picture of Mark Felt, formerly known as "Deep Throat". I haven't decided if I'm Woodward or
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