Downtown Campbell River (Photo: Ethan Morneau, MyCampbellRiverNow.com staff)
Police say free wifi and electricity, along with a lack of lighting and surveillance in downtown Campbell River means loiterers are keeping comfortable.
Cst. Maury Tyre says one of the most common occurrences the local RCMP detachment continues to deal with are calls of unwanted people loitering outside of businesses and homes.
“In some cases, people have politely asked the individuals to move on and have been met with verbal aggression, or been outright ignored,” he says. “And in some cases, the complainants do not feel comfortable enough to speak to the person for various reasons, so they contact police.”
After attending these types of calls, Tyre says there are a few common reasons as to why people pick certain places to loiter. He says it can be easily fixed:
Free WIFI – Tyre says many businesses offer free wifi for customers. To avoid loitering, he says you should turn the wifi off after hours.
Free Electricity – Outlets that are outside buildings often attract people looking to charge phones or tablets. But if they aren’t being used, Tyre says it may be worth turning the power off to those outlets.
Lighting – Bright lights used to keep loiterers away, Tyre says. And while bright lights may make the location less enticing to sleep in, areas with bright lights with eyelines hidden from street view are often used by those using drugs so they can safely inject.
Nobody’s watching – In the last few years, Tyre says decent surveillance systems have gone down in price substantially. As a simple rule, he says nobody really likes to feel they’re being watched, especially if they’re doing something they know is wrong. “A small investment can ward off loiterers and also has the added benefit of being able to catch and prevent people conducting criminal acts on your property,” he adds.
While he notes making a property less welcoming may seem mean spirited to some, Tyre is touching on the importance of recognizing that everyone has the right to feel comfortable on their own property.
“As a guest to someone’s property – invited or otherwise – it’s also important to recognize that if we negatively affect the enjoyment or use of that property, we may be committing a crime.”
As a police force, Tyre says officers are “certainly sympathetic to those who are less advantaged in our community.” He says police spend a great deal of time working with community service agencies and the individuals themselves to try to limit negative community interactions.
“However, we are also responsible to the businesses and citizens of our community and recognize that the loitering in many cases is leaving behind a swath of garbage, graffiti and sometimes dangerous items such as needles or other drug paraphernalia and that has a negative effect on the community’s sense of well being,” Tyre explains, “and it is the locations that have been negatively affected that the police are being called to most.”