Laying down the law

http://vancouver.metblogs.com/archives/images/2006/12/arrestsmudge-thumb.jpgJust last week, a pollster called me up to ask how I would rate police services in Vancouver. I’m not really sure why I agreed to do it. Usually I just give them an excuse and hang up. This time, I took a few minutes to hear the questions.

I was a little upset that most of the questions lacked any nuance: for example, one question was whether I thought crime was increasing. Well, violent crime? Property crime? Aggressive panhandling? Lumping it all in together doesn’t seem to make sense.

Then there was a question near the end – would I be willing to pay an extra $100 on my taxes to support an increase in police services? That depends – what is the money going to pay for – more cops on the streets, or just higher salaries and new police cars? There was no context.

I ended up not answering about a third of the questions and answering a third that I probably shouldn’t have, since they were open to interpretation. The other third – well, I guess things like my postal code aren’t so ambiguous.

The poll was clearly done to see whether the city would have the public’s support for a rise in the cost of policing (possibly independent of a rise in actual policing capacity).

The downtown core has seen a huge population increase from the construction of high-rise condos and the transformation of Granville into a true entertainment centre – without a corresponding rise in the numbers of cops on the street. We’ll see if that changes.

Note: The photograph that accompanies this article was taken by me on a cell phone on my lunch break. It’s the first time I’ve managed to catch an arrest on camera, but far from the first arrest I’ve witnessed on Granville.

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