EDITORIAL: Media photo-op just not enough

Drug bust show-and-tell loses impact with potentially dangerous suspects back on the street

When police and B.C’s anti-gang squad busted two of Greater Victoria’s “top-level” suspected drug traffickers recently, they held a press conference and laid out a large quantity of drugs and paraphernalia for photographers and news media to record.

Police were proud to display their bounty, saying it “dismantled (the suspect’s) ability to make money and create crime.”

But much like a fishing expedition, the suspects were caught and released, like large trophy fish, back to society. The reason, police say, is to allow investigators time to establish a maximum number of criminal charges.

Police further stated they are “concerned” that both ammunition and gun holsters were found, but no weapons.

Can we surmise from this then, that these two “highest priority targets on Vancouver Island,” who supposedly operated their grow-op-come-drug storage operations in heavily populated neighbourhoods filled with families and children, are now out and about with weapons?

Police admit the two suspects have a history of violent crime, drug trafficking and connections to organized drug crime in the Lower Mainland.

How can the public have any confidence in our justice system, if, after the arrest of suspected criminals police say “represent the top of the food chain for the Greater Victoria area,” they are allowed to walk away – even if only temporarily and under a close watch?

The police may have made a dent in their operations, but there is no doubt that these two highly organized, apparently successful drug dealers will be able to pick up where they left off with the help of lesser-known and less-watched associates.

The arrest of suspects at that level needs to be more than simply a photo-op for police. The public deserves to know that along with taking the drugs off the street, the people behind the drugs are off the street as well.