Local officer asks what you’d do to stop violence

The recent opinions in the articles labelling marihuana busts as ‘exercises in stupidity’ and the one on ‘cache crops’ prompted my response.


It’s rare for me to comment on a person’s opinion in the newspaper; however, the recent opinions in the articles labelling marihuana busts as ‘exercises in stupidity’ and the one on ‘cache crops’ has prompted my response.

Firstly, I want to ensure that everyone is clear on the role of police: we ensure safety by maintaining public order, enforcing laws, and investigating crime. What we are not are government law-makers or politicians, who are the persons responsible for enacting laws in Canada. 

This is the reality: growing marihuana in Canada, which in case there is any confusion, includes B.C., is illegal.

The presence of guns in grow houses is a real concern – it’s not a joke. I’ve personally seen the aftermath of drive-by shootings and home invasions on grow houses in small communities not much different than those found in the Kootenays.

I’ve seen houses invaded by armed and masked suspects who, after tying up the residents, found they were inside the wrong house – they mistakenly invaded the neighbour’s.

If you want to argue that the children inside these grow homes and the innocent residents in the wrongfully targeted homes weren’t victims, then you obviously don’t understand what being a victim really means. Coming from someone who had to comfort them I can say they were victims and that they’ll be affected for life.

The Slocan Valley itself has experienced home invasions and break & enters on houses with grow ops. From these homes, I’ve personally recovered loaded handguns and rifles that were completely functional – yes, not disassembled, but assembled – and ready to be fired. In fact, in just over one year we’ve seized functional firearms in 6 of 15 investigations, or about 40 %, in the Slocan Valley, including loaded handguns in two separate cases.

Now, I’m no hunting expert, but what I can tell you is that these handguns weren’t being used to hunt deer or elk. I’ve lived in some of Canada’s largest cities and smallest towns. My personal and professional experiences have shown me that danger can be found around any corner, at any time. As a police officer I now more than ever have to be aware of this so that I can go home safely to my family every night.

I knew when I became a police officer I’d be faced with difficult and sometimes dangerous situations. In spite of this I, like the other officers, chose to do this job and we do it day in and day out without complaining about these dangers. Rather, we focus on providing the best service we can with the resources we have to ensure the community is safe.

Part of keeping the community safe entails reducing the number of illegal activities that increase the risk of violence. Unfortunately for here what this means is so-called ‘busting’ grow ops, specifically those that are commercially-driven, in effort to not only take guns off the street, but also to make one less target for a drive-by shooting, home invasion, or break & enter. I for one don’t want anyone in my family, anyone I know, or my house struck by a stray bullet that was intended for a grow house. I certainly do not want to sit idle on the sidelines for any of the above to happen, either.

What’s frustrating is that police are obligated and expected to provide a blanket of security, yet when they do what’s necessary certain individuals question the very manner in which it’s provided.

Until you’ve had to fight for your life with a drunk down a dark alley by yourself, face an uncooperative person armed with a weapon, or deal with someone who’s threatened to kill you simply because of your occupation, I encourage you to keep your comments to a minimum and leave how to keep a community safe to police. Otherwise, I suggest you take a number, suit up in uniform, and patrol the streets. Alternatively, enter politics and take office so you can change the laws you feel are in so drastic need of change.

If these are not suitable options you can always move to a country that is more understanding of marihuana laws: you can get life in prison in some U.S. states, like recently experienced by someone in Louisiana who possessed 2 pounds of marihuana, or you can always move to places like the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore where they have the death penalty for people caught selling marihuana and, in some cases, for merely possessing it.

I love Canada. I do what I can to make it a better and safer place – What do you do?


Shaun Foley,