Cake may cure a sweet tooth, but it won’t help you if you’ve been pepper-sprayed in the face: So says Blackbird Security’s Sean Smith, as he shares a recent August encounter he’s calling “the most bizarre thing.”
The patrol officer cruises around downtown Campbell River each Friday and Saturday, from 8:00 pm until 4:00 am, keeping watch to help damper down any unwanted activity.
As Downtown BIA co-chair Heather Gordon Murphy puts it, “many challenges” have rocked the area, especially over the last year.
Murphy says it has prompted staff to take charge, teaming up with local business owners to hire Blackbird’s ‘boots-on-the-ground’ services, patrolling from Pier Street to Campbell River Commons and everywhere in between.
For Smith, the workload abounds each eight-hour shift, from keeping people off private property to helping minimize local alcohol and drug use. “We are on a constant patrol,” he tells My Campbell River Now.
When thinking back, an encounter that sticks out most for Smith since walking the new beat just so happened to occur when he was wrapping up on a Friday night.
“I had just punched out for my shift when I had a guy come literally screaming up to my car,” Smith shares. “He had been pepper-sprayed from head to toe. He was in obvious pain, but freaking out about the fact that his friend had pepper-sprayed him.”
According to Smith, his military instincts quickly kicked in. “So having been in the military and familiar with what this does to your face, I took him over to the Sobering Centre and went about trying to assist him.”
And not long after, things took a rather messy turn, Smith notes. “Another woman living on the street came up saying she knew what to do,” he recalls.
Smith says the woman, who was holding a Black Forest cake, took the dessert and smashed it into the victim’s face.
While she may have thought she was helping, Smith says her theory wasn’t a solution, adding, “I’ve been in the security and surveillance industry for about 13 years and I’ve seen some really weird stuff, but that took the cake.”
The RCMP and an ambulance soon showed up, Smith explains, with baby shampoo on hand to help alleviate the problem. The pepper spray victim is now recovering, and while the culprit was identified, Smith says the victim didn’t want to press charges.
Described as rather “bizarre,” this encounter is just one of many for Smith. When reflecting on the downtown situation and the issues he’s experienced thus far, he finds “presence is key.”
“The fact that we’re driving around and people living on the streets see us constantly, and we’re moving them from private property on a regular basis to keep them from setting up encampments and staying in places that they’re not supposed to be, is making a big difference,” he says.
Smith continues, “We’re seeing places that are usually complete garbage pits in the morning, not be garbage pits because we haven’t allowed anyone to stay there. It’s having an impact, and we’re hoping to expand it in the next little while.”