November 5, 2019
To hear police tell it, crime in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is being driven up by Oppenheimer Park’s homeless camp.
Five shootings in four months. Hundreds of weapons seized. A spike in 911 calls and a “significant” rise in violent crime, such as robberies and assaults.
Since July, the Vancouver Police Department has said that these increases are “stemming out of Oppenheimer Park and sprawling into the Downtown Eastside,” as Deputy Chief Constable Howard Chow put it in a September statement.
It’s a narrative that has helped frame debate about what should happen to the camp and its residents.
But a Star Vancouver analysis of publicly available crime statistics raises questions about the VPD’s assertions.
It’s clear that there’s been an increase in crime. What’s much less clear, from the data, is whether the homeless camp is to blame. And critics are criticizing how police have presented their case.