453 firearms seized in Vancouver this year; police renew concerns about tent city
Published Thursday, September 19, 2019 2:06PM PDT Last Updated Thursday, September 19, 2019 6:52PM PDT
Vancouver police have released new figures showing a startling amount of violence across the city, especially at Oppenheimer Park and surrounding neighbourhoods in the Downtown Eastside.
Officials say they have seized 453 firearms in four different districts of the city, this year alone. Nearly 50 per cent of those were in the area that includes Oppenheimer Park and the Downtown Eastside.
"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 VPD's Deputy Chief Const. Howard Chow, in a news release. "We are seeing a substantial increase in violent crime, and officers have seized a significant amount of weapons, including firearms."
The VPD is renewing its concerns for the public's safety in these areas, saying emergency calls for police to Oppenheimer Park have increased by 87 per cent from June to August, in comparison to last year.
"We first raised this issue publicly in July, and it has only gotten worse," adds Chow in the release. "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."
This year, assaults against police officers have gone up by 68 per cent in the Downtown Eastside area, in comparison to 2018—jumping from 19 incidents last year to 32 this year. Officials say this past weekend VPD officers had bottles thrown at them by bystanders as they were responding to a call in Oppenheimer Park.
They add "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."
Vancouver police will maintain a strong presence in and around Oppenheimer Park to ensure the public's safety. Anyone with information about a crime is asked to call 911.