The Vancouver Police Department’s new neighbourhood response team has responded to 300 calls for service and seized 34 weapons in its first 11 days.
On Friday, VPD released numbers from the team, which was created in response to growing citizen concerns about crime around the city.
“The primary responsibility of the neighbourhood response team is to respond to the increasing calls for service regarding street disorder, make proactive patrols in areas with growing street disorder problems, and to engage with residents in the community,” said Const. Tania Visintin.
Teams have focused their efforts mainly along the Granville Street Corridor, as well as in Strathcona, Chinatown and Yaletown.
Visintin said in one case, police stopped a person for not wearing a bike helmet on Granville Street. After searching the bike’s serial number on a police database, they determined the bike was stolen and returned it to its owner.
They also stopped a man for trespassing at a fast food restaurant near Granville and Smithe Street.
“Trespassing in front of the restaurant is an ongoing issue as it interrupts the restaurant’s ability to maintain line-ups with physical distancing,” said Visintin.
The man had an outstanding warrant for theft under $5,000. A search revealed two knives, two home-made shanks, a modified sharpened wine crank, a slingshot, scissors, and other improvised weapons. Police have recommended charges.
In a third incident, a team member saw a man allegedly assault a woman and attempt to steal her purse near Dunsmuir Viaduct and Citadel Parade. Police arrested the man for robbery and breaching a release order.
Visintin said the team is focused on being proactive and “stopping crimes before they happen.” They are able to take over lower-level calls that can get “hidden and buried in our call board” while officers are responding to more serious calls.
The team also tries to connect people to services as needed.
On Monday, Deputy Chief Const. Howard Chow released the results of a survey showing almost 80 per cent of Vancouver residents are increasingly concerned about crime in the city.
The survey showed that 78 per cent of respondents in Vancouver are concerned about crime, with 61 per cent saying the situation had gotten worse in the last year.
Eighty-four per cent of downtown residents are worried about crime in the city, while 58 per cent of all respondents said they are concerned specifically about crime in their neighbourhoods.
— with Postmedia files