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Vancouver Police renew concern about safety in Oppenheimer Park and the Downtown Eastside

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Vancouver Police today expressed concern about the deteriorating level of public safety in Oppenheimer Park and the neighbouring area in the Downtown Eastside. Emergency calls for police to Oppenheimer Park increased by 87 per cent from June to August when compared to last year.

“Since the beginning of the year there has been a significant spike in crime and street disorder stemming out of Oppenheimer Park, and sprawling into the Downtown Eastside,” says Deputy Chief Constable Howard Chow, Operations, VPD.  “We are seeing a substantial increase in violent crime, and officers have seized a significant amount of weapons, including firearms.”

So far, this year, police have seized 453 firearms in four different districts of the city. Forty-nine per cent (223) of those have been in ‘district two’ alone, which includes Oppenheimer Park and the Downtown Eastside.

“We first raised this issue publicly in July, and it has only gotten worse,” adds Deputy Chief Chow. “In my 30-plus years with the VPD, I have never seen such high numbers of weapons seized in one district alone. The numbers almost average out to one gun seized each day so far this year. I am also very concerned about the high levels of aggression we are seeing towards police.”

Assaults against police officers this year have gone up in district two by 68 per cent when compared to 2018 – jumping from 19 incidents last year to 32 this year. This past weekend, VPD patrol officers had bottles thrown at them by bystanders as they were responding to a call in Oppenheimer Park.

Further, police intelligence indicates that gangs are vying for territory within Oppenheimer Park which is creating a dangerous and volatile situation for residents in the park and the surrounding area.

The VPD will continue to maintain a visible presence in and around Oppenheimer Park and the Downtown Eastside to keep the peace, ensure public safety, and respond to incidents.  Anyone who has been the victim of a crime or who has information about a  crime is encouraged to call 9-1-1.

 

BACKGROUND

Vancouver is divided into four districts for operations by the VPD. District two runs from Boundary to Cambie (east-west) and Broadway to Burrard Inlet (south-north).

District two includes the Beat Enforcement Area (BET) and Oppenheimer Park.

BET includes five west-to-east city blocks from Cambie to Gore, and two south-to-north blocks, from Pender to Cordova.

Oppenheimer Park represents one city block.

 

FACTS

Calls for service

From June to August 2019, calls for service for police in BET increased from 5,310 to 5,821 – a ten per cent increase over 2018.

From June to August 2019, calls for service for police in Oppenheimer increased from 202 to 378 – an 87 per cent increase over last year.

Gun seizures:

From January to August 2019, police seized 453 guns in Vancouver. Breakdown by district:

District 1: 50 guns seized

District 2: 223 guns seized

District 3: 56 guns seized

District 4: 121 guns seized

*3 seized guns not attributed to a district

 

Weapon seizures (not including firearms):

From June to August 2019, 476 weapons were seized in BET – up from 346 during this three-month period in 2018.

From June to August 2019, 17 weapons were seized in Oppenheimer – up from two during this three-month period in 2018.

 

Violent crime (includes robbery, serious assault, sexual assault):

From June to August 2019, violent crime in BET has gone up to 144 incidents, up from 114 in 2018.

From June to August 2019, violent crime in Oppenheimer has gone up to 19 incidents, from 5 incidents in 2018.