People gather under the glass ceiling because it provides shelter from the elements during the winter months. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror

Police balance needs of the disadvantaged with the safety of property and its owners

Most frequent complaints Campbell River RCMP deal with are unwanted individuals and loitering

One of the most common occurrences the local RCMP detachment continues to deal with are calls of unwanted individuals or loitering outside their businesses or residences.

In some cases people have politely asked the individuals to move on and have been met with verbal aggression or been outright ignored and in some cases the complainants do not feel comfortable enough to speak to the person for various reasons, so they contact police.

In attending many of these occurrences, there are some common reasons that people are picking certain places to loiter and it can be easily fixed. Const. Maury Tyre, RCMP media relations officer, listed the following reasons and suggestions as to how to deal with them:

1. Free WIFI – Many businesses offer free wifi for customers, in order to avoid loitering. Turn the wifi off after hours.

2. Free Electricity – Outlets that are outside buildings often attract individuals looking to charge phones or tablets. If they aren’t being used it may be worth turning power off to those outlets.

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3. Lighting – Bright lights used to keep loiterers away. Although bright lights may make the location less enticing to sleep in, areas with bright lights with eyelines hidden from street view are often used by individuals who are using intravenous drugs so they can safely inject.

4. Nobody’s watching – In the last few years, decent surveillance systems have come down in price substantially. As a simple rule, nobody really likes to feel they are being watched especially if they are doing something they know is wrong. A small investment can ward of loiterers and also has the added benefit of being able to catch and prevent people conducting criminal acts on your property.

While making a property less welcoming may seem mean-spirited to some, it’s important to recognize that as businesses and citizens, everyone has the right to feel comfortable on their own property. As a guest on someone’s property, invited or otherwise, it’s also important to recognize that if we negatively effect the enjoyment or use of that property we may be committing a crime.

“As a police force, we are certainly sympathetic to those who are less advantaged in our community and spend a great deal of time working with community service agencies and the individuals themselves to try to limit negative community interactions,” said Const. Tyre. “However, we are also responsible to the businesses and citizens of our community and recognize that the loitering in many cases is leaving behind a swath of garbage, graffiti and sometimes dangerous items such as needles or other drug paraphernalia and that has a negative effect on the community’s sense of well being and it is the locations that have been negatively affected that the police are being called to most.”

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