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Police in B.C. unsure how to enforce non-essential travel crackdown

Last Updated Apr 23, 2021 at 10:31 pm PDT

(Source: iStock)

B.C. is cracking down on non-essential travel and telling us to stick within our health regions or face a $575 fine

BC Police Association president is worried about what officers will be asked to do, asking for clarity

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As the province further restricts travel throughout B.C., police are still unsure about how they’ll enforce the rules which are already in effect.

If you leave your health region for non-essential reasons, you could be slapped with a $575 fine, but BC Police Association President Ralph Kaisers has concerns because it puts police in a “very tough position.”

“We’re not supposed to be doing random and arbitrary stops now. The government’s been very clear they don’t want us to do it, but now they’re wanting us to do it in these circumstances,” he says, adding they would also like to know what level of government they will be following up with.

Related Article: B.C. restricts non-essential travel until May 25, fines to be issued for violations

The National Police Federation has echoed Kaisers’ concerns, saying it’s worried about what it calls the ongoing lack of clarity.


Kaisers is also concerned about whether police departments have enough resources.

“I know, municipalities around the province and all the different jurisdictions are certainly very strapped when it comes to resources. And if members are going to be taken away to do these roadblocks or these street checks, then where are those resources coming from?

“I’m hoping there’s gonna be a lot more consultation with the various departments, the Chiefs of Police and police associations.”

While Kaisers says he understands why the government is imposing these restrictions, he thinks police can help with education instead.

“It’s going to put our members again in the spotlight doing something that some people in the public aren’t going to agree with,” he says.

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Members of the community and activists have been critical of officers because of many BIPOC Canadians’ experiences with racial profiling.

Kaisers says police are hearing people’s concerns, which is why the vagueness of their role puts officers in a “tough spot,” especially as departments are working on building relationships with affected communities.

Additionally, Kaisers is concerned for first responders, since many of them are still waiting on their vaccination.

“A lot of people, most of the public, thinks that police and fire have already been vaccinated. And the reality is the majority of members in this province have still not been vaccinated. So here we are, potentially with some legislation and work that needs to be done by police officers, which is going to put us at greater risk of harm to ourselves. And as well as potentially contributing to the potential spread of the virus.”

Under the new rules, Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health will be considered one region, with Interior and Northern Health, lopped together too, and the Island a distinct zone.

The new rules are effective until Tuesday, May 25, the end of May long weekend.

The province plans to provide details on what enforcement will actually look like next week.