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Delta mayor miffed police not consulted

Delta Mayor Lois E. Jackson. - File Photo
Delta Mayor Lois E. Jackson.
— image credit: File Photo

Delta mayor Lois Jackson says she was surprised that a community report on domestic violence did not include input from the police department, despite the fact it has a Domestic Violence Unit.

When initially contacted by The South Delta Leader for comment on the report, Jackson said she was unaware of its existence.

"As the authority in this Municipality responsible for policing, crime prevention, addressing so many aspects of crime, including domestic violence, we were all a little surprised, to say the least, that none of us had been contacted, for any input to the report," she said via email.

As chair of the Delta Police Board, Jackson said she tabled the report to be presented to the police board at the next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 12. Staff will have already critiqued it and will report their findings at that meeting.

"I am a little concerned that such a document is funded by the Department of Justice Canada, and research done on 'Delta Violence' without the input from the legislated authority of the Delta Police Board and Department," she said.

But Doug Sabourin, executive director of Deltassist, was taken aback by the mayor's comments, saying the police department and Victim Services were "intricately involved" in the report.

"One of the things that I really admire about the police department is they have been very involved in domestic violence issues," he said, before adding the purpose of the report was not to highlight problems in policing but deficits in community support services.

"The police do their job very, very well," said Sabourin. "The problem is once the domestic violence situation is discovered, and charges are laid or we're trying to get the victim and the family to safety, that's when the problem starts."

Sabourin said the report found a lack of transitional and second stage housing, a lack of available legal services, and programs for children who witness abuse.

"Domestic violence is not just a policing issue. And the best thing we can do is say, yes there is definitely a policing aspect. But it's what happens afterward. How do we help? How do we maintain people in the community? How do we avoid revictimizing people?"

But Jackson thinks law enforcement should have been better consulted on the project.

"It does appear to be unseemly that a project of a Deltassist Committee would move into the realm of 'working with other community groups' and 'taking a leadership role in bringing together domestic violence service providers' without first getting the input and support of the Delta Police and Delta Police Board, who are the 'caretakers of law and order' as set out by the provincial legislation."

Sabourin says when the report was presented publicly on Oct. 31, one of the panelists was from Delta Police Victims Services.

"I'm surprised that she would take such a strong position or say that she was surprised or concerned. It's fairly well known that there are very few services."

The report does not provide Delta's domestic violence statistics, though it does note in the client survey that when asked how they found out about programs and services in Delta, respondents indicated that police and friends were their top sources of information.

adrian@southdeltaleader.com

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