Q&A - How Do We Help the Police?

QuestionQ: I am a resident of Errington and spend a lot of time in Parksville with vested interest in both areas. I would very much like to assist the police with their work and help deal with the crime that is so plentiful of late.

I have a couple of questions that I was hoping you may know the answer to.

Firstly, as a citizen witnessing crime, what exactly do the police need from me to be able to apprehend someone? For example if I phone them and report having seen a crime in progress such as open drug use, is that enough for them to come and search/ arrest the person for possession of drugs?

Do they need more than this if so what?

Likewise with drug houses selling drugs. What exactly do the police need to be able to get a warrant for searching?

It seems like there are lots of things happening on a daily basis that are not being dealt with and I am trying to establish why that is. Are people just not reporting or is it that the police need more evidence prior to getting involved?

Are the police understaffed and having to just let some things go?

I would really appreciate your best advice on this.

A: I contacted the local detachment for a response to this as it is not a part of the Oceanside Community Safety mandate. They declined to answer, suggesting instead that I contact E Division Headquarters in Surrey for a response. I did that and received the following information:

The BC RCMP always encourages citizens to contact the police if they identify suspicious or criminal activity. It is always helpful to officers if you can clearly indicate the time, location and descriptions of any individuals you may have witnessed. If you have cell phone or dash cam video, you are encouraged to save and share that material with the investigating officers.

We always recommend contacting the police by telephone or in person to file a report. In the event of emergencies, a citizen should ensure they are safe and always dial 9-1-1. We do not encourage citizens to approach individuals or insert themselves into what could become a dangerous situation. Police officers are specially trained to respond and handle each call.

The Block Watch Society of BC has published the article Is There a Drug House in Your Neighbourhood with information that may be useful as well.

If you are interested in joining our group of volunteers, both Block Watch and Community Watch would provide you with an opportunity to contribute to the community and try to make it a safer place to live. You can find information on joining us here.