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KEEPING IT REAL: Inquiry into missing women wastes millions

Harvey Oberfeld
By Harvey Oberfeld
August 4th, 2010

 Vancouver Police got it wrong in the beginning– and they’re getting it wrong again at the end. The department has jumped on the politically correct bandwagon and supported calls for a public inquiry into what went wrong in the case of the 26 missing women, who are believed to have died at the hands of  Robert Pickton, already convicted of murder in six of the deaths. 

Surely the police and everyone else already knows what went wrong: the lack of attention to their disappearances right from the start because they were street people and addicts; the lack of  initial co-operation and co-ordination between the various police forces who took far too long to realize a serial killer was on a rampage; the failings of social agencies in keeping track of their “clients”, alerting authorities to their disappearances soon enough and/or helping them get treatment for the substance abuses and emotional problems; and yes, even the negligence of their own families that allowed so many to slide into their distressed situations without getting them the help they needed or, in some cases, even keeping aware of where they were.

All a public inquiry would lead to, two years down the road, would be another report that will gather more dust than produce results in the way of  very much useful new information.

About all an offical inquiry would do is just put millions of dollars into the pockets of all the lawyers who cash in on  the public inquiry “industry” and produce a document that will likely reveal almost nothing police, the government , the social agencies and the families don’t already know.

Better they take the millions of extra public  dollars it would all cost and put it into actual stepped up services to help the street workers and addicts, who still ply their trade on the downtown eastside,  get the real medical and psychological help they need.

I have no doubt that in all the years the missing women’s cases have now been in the main stage spotlight, the police and other authorities have already studied, dissected and determined what went wrong and  already put into place many changes to try to ensure it does not happen again. 

In fact, the VPD will soon be releasing a report into the investigation process and errors made. Even cynics should wait to see that report befroe dismissing it or joining the rush calls for a public inquiry. 

And there are other ways  to make sure all issues/concerns are examined without going for a full inquiry. 

For starters, why not a multi-day series of meetings and conferences involveng all the police, social and government agencies involved, along with family members of the victims?  They could together canvass (behind closed doors if necessary) all the errors that occurred, how and why, and then come up with the findings and any recommended changes and controls to ensure such a situation can’t befall our society again.

And provide the extra care and protection on the streets needed right now–not after some study comes out in 2012!

The proposed  public inquiry, in my view, is just a sop to the families of the missing women. It  maybe even win votes among the politically correct, but it would largely be just a waste of millions of dollars of public money that will yield, as I say, years down the road nothing more than I’m sure police and officials already know has to be done. 

Of course, the media would love an inquiry (easy, cheap news to cover)  and dozens of  lawyers will fill their pockets.

But if we really care about improving the lives of women on the downtown eastside, we’ll spend the money that an inquiry would burn up down there right now instead.

This article originally appeared in Mr. Oberfeld’s blog, Keeping it Real. Reprinted with permission.

This post was syndicated from https://rosslandtelegraph.com
Categories: Op/Ed

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