Calgary police chief Roger Chaffin told reporters Wednesday crime could be reduced if the city was to provide supervised consumption sites for those with addictions to methamphetamine and opioids like fentanyl.
“We’re working through the preliminary talks about what we could do, where this would go,” said Chaffin. “There are some regulatory issues that have to be addressed from the federal government side, but there’d be no strong impediments other than organizing this properly.”
Chaffin said an increase in crimes like break and enters and vehicle thefts can be attributed to an increase in those struggling to deal with their addictions.
“These are not the drug dealers,” said Chaffin. “The users, the addicts, the most vulnerable people are the ones driving the crime trends high. We know if we can get them healthy and get the demand side down a bit, we know we can bring the crime trends down with it.”
Chaffin envisions any supervised consumption site would be co-located with existing treatment programs and other community support services to provide an integrated approach to helping addicts move away from substance abuse and toward a healthier future. There is no definite timeline for when such a facility could open and Chaffin wouldn’t say where such a site would be located. He did say determining a location can be a controversial part of the conversation.
“People imagine the Vancouver setting where you saw hypodermic needles laying on the ground and drug dealers hanging out in the area,” said Chaffin. “The Calgary environment is different, it’s not an entrenched addict community; it’s bringing it more into a clinical setting. The police have an opportunity to create safety mechanisms around it.”
“I think people want to see the crime trends drop, they want to see the health of this city improve and this is a really good opportunity to start that.”