Letters May 1: School-liaison police officers; money is not enough

Police in schools bring great value

Re: “Trustees vote to end assigning ­officers to Vancouver schools,” April 28.

After more than two decades as a teacher in British Columbia, I have on hundreds of occasions capitalized on what we call a “teachable moment.” These moments are unplanned, spontaneous, and often rewarding and enlightening for students and teachers.

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Unfortunately, by ending their school liaison programs, school trustees in Vancouver and New Westminster have missed an invaluable teachable moment.

By ending a program that encourages a positive relationship between police officers and students, school trustees have effectively joined society’s “cancel culture” phenomenon.

Reasons for ending the program included concerns that “uniformed officers make some students anxious or upset, including many identifying as Black, Indigenous, or people of colour.” In addition, the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police officer Derek Chauvin and the resulting global spotlight on excessive force by police officers were cited as contributing factors to the trustees’ decision.

Each of these concerns is valid and must be addressed, and each presents a teachable moment that could be of immeasurable benefit to students and teachers, police officers, and our communities for generations.

I have witnessed first-hand the crucial role liaison officers play in schools. Rather than eliminating the program, their role should be enhanced and bolstered.

Collaboration and open dialogue should be encouraged, so that students’ anxieties are eased, and their perception of the police is one not corrupted by the actions of a very few.

This would also provide an opportunity for our police officers to understand how they can conduct themselves and build meaningful relationships to ease these anxieties and build trust.

I was heartened to hear that trustees in Surrey decided to continue their liaison program. I hope those in Victoria seize this teachable moment as well.

Our kids and our police officers are worth more than a knee-jerk, short-sighted reaction.

Christopher Parker
Victoria

Money alone will not solve the problem

While it’s good governments at all levels are finally recognizing the social impact to society of the growing homeless issue, simply buying hotels to shelter these people isn’t solving the problem.

Some who are living rough can’t care for themselves for various reasons including severe mental issues. These people should be institutionalized. Others may simply lack the skills they need to be integrated in society.

Having a hotel room without a stove, for example, leads to being reliant on the social services to supply food, costly and not always the best food.

I would like to see social housing, in addition to harm-reduction support, adopt in-house services to train people the basic skills needed to be self-sufficient.

In addition, I’d like to see anyone who benefits from social housing builds take a part in the project within reason. Habitat For Humanity uses this model.This would help offset the huge labor cost of these projects and provide much needed practical work skills for some people.

There are multitude issues at the root of social housing. Simply throwing money at the issue isn’t good enough.

Bennett Guinn
Victoria

Psychiatric treatment could bring happy lives

Re: “Consider health system as a whole,” letter, April 24.

As a retired psychiatrist, it is very disturbing to read about multiple allegations of mistreatment of mentally ill patients and their families by psychiatrists and nursing staff at the Psychiatric Emergency Services of Island Health.

Two courageous young women, Ella Hale and Emma Epp, have initiated a Facebook forum “Pathetic Excuse for Support” to tell their stories about receiving an unconscionable lack of empathy and incompetence, and they have been joined by 2,000 other vulnerable patients.

In the 1980s and 1990s most of the Victoria psychiatrists worked on the inpatient units, served the emergency room and maintained offices in the community. We were able to provide continuity of care to patients and their families and could usually respond immediately to emergency and urgent requests from family physicians.

Now most psychiatrists work mainly on inpatient units. For those few working in the community, psychiatric care is often limited to one visit and waiting lists are long.

It is rarely possible for severely chronic mentally ill patients to receive anything close to accurate diagnoses, adequate treatments or competent psychiatric follow-up.

Unless psychiatrists are willing to do their duty as physicians and take responsibility for providing community assessment and biological treatment of severe mental illness in the longer term, the devastating outcomes, including suicide, will continue.

Sadly, there is often no psychiatrist available to send these desperate psychotic and suicidal patients to see for help. Most of the public are unaware that severe mental illness should respond well to psychiatric treatment, allowing patients to lead happy and fulfilling lives.

Therefore, this travesty is infinitely more tragic.

Carl Stovel
Saanich

Homeless need treatment first

I am a Central Saanich resident living very close one to the newest proposed B.C. Housing supportive units.

My question is why is our housing corporation involved with and responsible for building housing for those with addictions rather than housing for people in need?

The one proposed for Prosser Street will share the property with a 50-unit market rental. The supportive units are not eligible for families as it is for adults only and the residents are going to be allowed to use drugs within their units.

How are we allowing for people with addictions and receiving little to no ­medical support, being housed directly beside a family-friendly housing complex?

What we need is complex and ­progressive addiction treatment centres by our health-care system, and ­housing for those that we deem successfully ­rehabilitated or simply in need because of circumstances beyond their control.

Drug-free housing for all ages is what B.C. Housing should be providing. They are not part of the health authority and should not be expecting a community to take responsibility for addiction care and treatment.

Lynda Middleton
Central Saanich

Ironic Earth Day in Langford

The irony was as deafening as the drone of rock crushing and chainsaws in Langford this Earth Day 2021.

Thanks to the couple dozen people who volunteered their time to replant native vegetation in the new Jordie Lunn bike park in Westhills.

It was a small but significant gesture this Earth Day, surely done in spite of the surrounding deforestation and nearby leveling of Skirt Mountain.

Whether it’s the vibration from blasting or the frustration with development transparency, Langford’s giving me a headache. Or it might just be the fumes from the herbicide application on the astroturf.

Mike Turner
Langford

Shameful support of a broken policy

Last week another horrific, violent incident in Beacon Hill Park occurred that saw a 15-year-old assaulted.

Councillors Ben Isitt, Jeremy Loveday, Sarah Potts and Sharmarke Dubow have consistently downplayed crime in and around tent encampments.

These same councillors have used the pandemic to push their ideological views, which have allowed criminals to thrive under the guise of simply wanting or needing housing.

Generally these councillors advocate for policies that would see less public safety initiatives and or funding, while the police department has repeatedly stated violent calls are on the rise.

Potts made the following statement in relation to the April 20 violent assault of the 15-year-old: “Terrible violence happens everyday, whether people are sheltering in parks or living in mansions.”

Potts is right; violence does happen everywhere. Violence anywhere is not acceptable by most people’s standards. Where Potts and other councillors are wrong is their shameful support of a broken policy that supports violent people – on the taxpayers’ dime. These policies are destroying Victoria.

I live on Topaz Avenue and since 2015 we have experienced numerous break-ins and found people passed out on our sidewalk, to name a few incidents.

A couple years ago my elderly neighbours were subjected to a violent home invasion. They now live in a condo in Saanich.

Together Victoria activists posing as councillors for all Victorians – kindly resign now and save the taxpayers anxiety and money. Otherwise, you and your TV cohort will be annihilated from the political landscape.

October 2022 can’t come soon enough.

Jeff Peters
Victoria

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