CRIME rates on the Capilano reserve are "headed in the right direction," according to Chief Constable Peter Lepine of the West Vancouver police.
At a May 15 workshop at the Chief Joe Mathias Centre, Lepine said the trend is the result of an improving relationship between his department and the Squamish Nation.
It may seem counterintuitive, Lepine said, but that means the number of calls from Capilano have actually gone up.
"The fact is that's a good news story," Lepine told the 14 attendees. "It means calls come in and it's amazing how many people in the community call us to report things. The community is being proactive."
In 2011, West Vancouver police responded to 921 calls, substantially more than the average of 800 calls logged over the previous five years.
At the same time, the reserve has seen a drop in violent calls, from 55 to 46, as well as a 31 per cent drop in property crimes.
"Our domestic calls are going up," Lepine said. "These are the ones that don't involve assaults. People are screaming at each other and someone calls 9-1-1 and we find out there's a family fight going on. . . . It's important for us to get that call before it turns into an assault or something more serious. I'd sooner deal with it when it's at a low level."
Overall, the reserve represents 10 per cent of the "policed population" for the West Vancouver department, but generates only six per cent of its total calls. But, Lepine pointed out, a third of West Vancouver's domestic disputes occur on the reserve. Navigating these issues can be hard, said Const. Jeff Palmer, and requires a co-ordinated response from police, health workers and community leaders.
"We had one house," Palmer said, "that had 37 calls for service because there was family conflict, and it became clear addiction issues were really contributing to the family conflict. We got one family member to commit to treatment and go to treatment. It went down to three calls for service. If you can help that person find their path to health, the impact on that house is magnified."
Based on statistics and conversations with the community, West Vancouver police have identified five problem houses on the reserve that will get "extra attention."
"We want to do everything we can to stop and disrupt the people who are causing these problems," Palmer said.
In response to a question about police vehicles speeding on the reserve, Lepine encouraged the audience to call the department and lodge their complaint. All West Vancouver police cars have a GPS system, he said, and every car's speed and position is recorded and matched against the call log.
Another resident who preferred not to be identified said in spite of Lepine's positive statistics, the area immediately beneath the Lions Gate Bridge is still a magnet "for drugs and mischief and drinking."
"My fence has been broken down 16 times in the last five years," he said. "You've got graffiti and old shopping carts and prams. I look out on this graffiti and a fence that has been boarded up so many times it can barely stand. It looks like Beirut. And I was broken into three weeks ago. I put my life savings into that house. They knock the fence down and nothing is ever done and the graffiti is never cleaned."