VANCOUVER Police on Thursday expressed concern about the deteriorating level of public safety in Oppenheimer Park and the neighbouring area in the Downtown Eastside. Emergency calls for police to Oppenheimer Park increased by 87 per cent from June to August as compared to last year.
“Since the beginning of the year there has been a significant spike in crime and street disorder stemming out of Oppenheimer Park, and sprawling into the Downtown Eastside,” said Deputy Chief Constable Howard Chow, Operations. “We are seeing a substantial increase in violent crime, and officers have seized a significant amount of weapons, including firearms.”
So far, this year, police have seized 453 firearms in four different districts of the city. Forty-nine per cent (223) of those have been in ‘district two’ alone, which includes Oppenheimer Park and the Downtown Eastside.
“We first raised this issue publicly in July, and it has only gotten worse,” said Chow. “In my 30-plus years with the VPD, I have never seen such high numbers of weapons seized in one district alone. The numbers almost average out to one gun seized each day so far this year. I am also very concerned about the high levels of aggression we are seeing towards police.”
Assaults against police officers this year have gone up in district two by 68 per cent when compared to 2018 – jumping from 19 incidents last year to 32 this year. This past weekend, VPD patrol officers had bottles thrown at them by bystanders as they were responding to a call in Oppenheimer Park.
Further, police intelligence indicates that gangs are vying for territory within Oppenheimer Park which is creating a dangerous and volatile situation for residents in the park and the surrounding area.
The VPD will continue to maintain a visible presence in and around Oppenheimer Park and the Downtown Eastside to keep the peace, ensure public safety, and respond to incidents. Anyone who has been the victim of a crime or who has information about a crime is encouraged to call 9-1-1.
Vancouver is divided into four districts for operations by the VPD. District two runs from Boundary to Cambie (east-west) and Broadway to Burrard Inlet (south-north).
District two includes the Beat Enforcement Area (BET) and Oppenheimer Park.
BET includes five west-to-east city blocks from Cambie to Gore, and two south-to-north blocks, from Pender to Cordova.
Oppenheimer Park represents one city block.