Cop Rejects Mayor's Drug Policy 

Cop Rejects Mayor's Drug Policy 
Posted by CN Staff on May 13, 2002 at 22:43:04 PT
By Mike Howell-Staff Writer 
Source: Vancouver Courier 
One of the Vancouver police officers whose involvement in an anti-drug conference last weekend is under scrutiny says he joined the controversial organization because he believes in its philosophy. Const. Toby Hinton declined to discuss his role in the conference while it's under review, but said that like Bob and Lynda Bentall, who formed the International Drug Education and Awareness Society, he doesn't believe "harm reduction" methods like safe-injection sites would solve the city's drug crisis. Harm reduction is one of the four pillars in Mayor Philip Owen's drug policy. 
"I don't want to slam the mayor because I think that he's got a real tough position and he's trying to do the best he can and it's just there may be, individually, some philosophical differences," said Hinton, who, along with Const. Al Arsenault is a vice-president of the society. "As an individual-not as a representative of any police department-I think [safe-injection sites] are based on fallacious logic and I think that it's going to make Vancouver more of a cesspool than it's going to do any good. We should be looking at getting people out of the sewer rather than making them comfortable in their toilet bowl." Hinton said he and Arsenault met the Bentalls a few years ago and began volunteering their time with the society last year with the aim of setting up the invitation-only IDEAS Symposium. The society brought in doctors and police from Europe and the United States for the conference, held at the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre May 1 to 3. The constables' participation in the conference-and that of fellow officers Chris Graham and Gerry Wickstead-came to the attention of Owen and their boss, Chief Terry Blythe, after allegations surfaced Tuesday that officers used a police vehicle to pick up delegates at the airport and that one officer used a police information computer to obtain criminal records and post them at the conference, with the names blacked out. Owen told the Courier he wants to know who approved the use of the Canadian Police Information Computer and the police car. Owen, who is the chairman of the police board, said taxpayers shouldn't be funding police officers and the use of equipment for private functions. The four have not been suspended and continue to work, said Det. Scott Driemel, the department's media liaison. "This was a private conference conducted by private people-albeit they are police officers-but they were on their own time acting as civilians, as individuals," Driemel said. "If there turns out there is more to it, then the chief will act on it." Hinton said he was disappointed the focus of the conference-which championed treatment, prevention and enforcement over safe-injection sites-has shifted to the role of the officers. "I shake my head because there are big issues worth discussing here and we end up focusing on just real small, minute details and it's all sort of designed to throw the focus of the conference and the good topics covered there off the rails," said Hinton, who along with Arsenault and Graham are members of the Odd Squad, a group of Downtown Eastside officers who educate the public on drug issues through film work and talks. The conference was organized in partnership with the Drug Free America Foundation, a supporter of the so-called war on drugs. Messages left for Wickstead and the Bentalls were not returned before the Courier's Friday deadline. Lynda Bentall-whom Hinton described as controversial and opinionated-opposes the medical use of marijuana and needle exchanges and supports Sweden's zero-tolerance policy on drugs. Lynda Bentall also funds and manages the Ailanthus Achievement Centre for Inner-City Youth on Commercial Drive. The program is "causing the potential of fine young people to be maximized rather than being destroyed by influences and effects of poverty, chemical dependency in the home, abuse, neglect, cultural disorientation, weak public services and community apathy," the society's web site says. Bob Bentall served as chairman of the board of Bentall Corporation, a major international real estate development and property management company with assets of approximately $2 billion, before retiring in 2001. Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)Author: Mike Howell-Staff Writer Published: Monday, May 13, 2002 Copyright: 2002 Vancouver CourierContact: editor vancourier.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:IDEA - Canada Links on Drugs Conference Open To Select Few Conference Attracts Critics Ideas, Good Ideas 
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