Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Shirley Bond was in Maple Ridge on Monday to meet with police and see the benefits of a proceeds-of-crime program firsthand.
Bond, along with MLA Marc Dalton, toured the Ridge Meadows RCMP headquarters and checked out some of the equipment the department has been able to buy with grants courtesy of the civil forfeiture program.
The most recent grants given to organizations in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows have been to Cythera Transition House Society, which received $5,000 for the VIP Program, which provides school-based presentations on domestic violence prevention to students and teachers, and provides a connection to an important community resource for dealing with children who have been exposed to domestic violence.
Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Community Services received $25,000 for its Ridge Meadows Child Advocacy Centre Pilot Project. This project will undertake a 12-month Child Advocacy Centre pilot project to establish a multidisciplinary team approach for responding to child victims of physical and sexual abuse.
Ridge Meadows RCMP used the $6,100 grant to buy a camera and accessories, a computer, and night vision for the street crime unit that focuses on prolific offenders.
In all, between the inception of the civil forfeiture program in 2006 and the end of fiscal 2011-12, proceeds totalled about $23.5 million and grants from proceeds (which go into the civil forfeiture special account, not government's general revenue) totalled $8.5 million.
"Overall, the government was able to dedicate $6.1 million of the proceeds to support local crime prevention efforts throughout B.C. during 2011-12," said Bond.
This total includes $600,000 distributed last fall and $5.5 million allocated at the end of the fiscal year, when a total of 185 community groups, local governments, and policing agencies shared in this funding to help reduce youth involvement in gangs, prevent violence against women and children, and further crime prevention.
"Program proceeds last year, at $10.8 million, were more than double the tally for 2010-11," she added.
"We had a record year," said Bond, who said she was impressed with the innovative way in which the local Mounties spent their $6,100 grant.
"Civil forfeiture is about people understanding that crime doesn't pay in British Columbia," the minister said.
In fact, if police recommend that they pursue the forfeiture of a property, or anything else, like a helicopter, they will.
"There is always a police referral to seize any type of asset," she said.
The helicopter that was seized last year in Maple Ridge was sold at auction for $165,000, which was then used towards grant funds.