“Illegal Drug Dealers – Want a date with a Judge?”
That’s the title of a public service announcement issued by the Dawson Creek RCMP warning drug dealers they could be charged with criminal negligence causing death or even manslaughter if the drugs they sell leads to a fatal overdose.
LISTEN: Inside the fentanyl epidemic
It comes months after BC became the first in Canada to declare a public health emergency after a rash of fentanyl overdoses, and North District RCMP Cpl. Dave Tyreman says police need to find a new way to get to the heart of the problem.
“If they link them to the overdose and the cause of the overdose, they’ve consulted with crown counsel in Dawson Creek and definitely an investigation will be conducted and charges will be recommended.”
Over the past year there’s been 19 drug overdoses in Dawson Creek linked to fentanyl and one person has died.
LISTEN: CKNW’s Shelby Thom breaks down the Dawson Creek idea
But questioned on whether the model has a place in Vancouver, VPD Constable Brian Montague says he’s not aware of this ever happening in the city.
He declined to respond questions if the VPD will follow a similar mandate.
A spokesperson with B.C.’s Criminal Justice Branch says it “does not speculate about hypothetical criminal matters and possible resulting charges.”
Criminal Code change
But a Burnaby father whose son died of a fentanyl-related drug overdose is cheering the idea, but says politicians will need to act first.
Mark Bodie lost his 17 year old son Jack last summer.
He applauds the Dawson Creek RCMP, but says the burden of proof for a criminal negligence causing death or manslaughter charge related to a drug overdose is so high, results are unlikely.
“There is such a disparity between what law enforcement can do and should and are willing to do, but what the courts will not follow through with.”
Bodie wants to see amendments to the criminal code to make it easier for crown to charge traffickers with overdose deaths.