RIGHT TO QUIET SOCIETY
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359 - 1985 Wallace Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6R 4H4 Phone (604) 222-0207
Web Site: www.quiet.org E-mail: info@quiet.org

Cartoon
Spring, 2008

Late response to noise complaint: fatality
 
On November 20, 2007, CBC Radio reported from their Vancouver newsroom that one day in October, Smithers RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) had received a noise complaint. A patrol went to check the situation about one hour later, when they found a man dead.

One of the neighbours who was interviewed mentioned that he heard some noise followed by someone moaning but didn’t call police. Obviously, another resident must have been disturbed and called. Also in that newscast, a Smithers police officer stated that the reason for not responding to that noise complaint earlier was that other matters took priority. According to CBC Radio, the dead man was a diamond driller in a mine, whose home was in Vernon, British Columbia.

In the course of our investigation, we found that a posting on the RCMP’s website regarding this case contained no word of a noise complaint prior to police finding the dead man. Several calls to the Strategic Information Team’s office mentioned on the website resulted in no response. The local newspaper Interior News reported that police found a dead body in the 4200-block of Railway Ave. on October 24, 2007. They gave no name of the victim, ostensibly upon a request by the victim’s family.

When we called the Smithers RCMP office to inquire, the responding officer wouldn’t even say the date of that incident, let alone anything else. We were immediately referred to the office of the commissioner at 1200 Vanier Parkway in Ottawa, to apply for information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Since we managed by coincidence to get the name and title of the two officers in charge of the Smithers RCMP detachment, we directed our formal info-request first to Smithers. Staff Sergeant Sheila White wrote back and stated that they are unable to reply to our request and advised us to contact the “RCMP Access to Information and Privacy” at the Ottawa address mentioned above.

 

We have recently mailed our info-request to Ottawa and are waiting for their response. We asked for a copy of the Smithers RCMP record of the afternoon of October 24, 2007, to see just what other matters prevented police to respond more promptly to that noise complaint they received about one hour before finding a dead man.

What transpires from this case is that because noise complaints receive no priority in too many situations, lives may be lost. Had the witness who heard the noise, followed by moaning, also called police, they might have given the case a higher priority and possibly have found the victim still alive.

Police, instead of “stone-walling” to ward off inconvenient scrutiny, should be more open and forthcoming and provide plausible explanations for their procedures. That would earn them valuable public trust and reduce the need to make special info-requests like ours. We wonder if the dead man’s relatives were given a proper explanation of why it took an hour to attend to a noise complaint. Perhaps some day in the future we will be able to even hear from the victim’s family.

Meanwhile, we urge everyone not to hesitate and call police when strange noises occur. A life could be at stake.


13th Annual International Noise Awareness Day: Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Weather permitting, Members of the Right to Quiet Society will be out to distribute our leaflets and raise public awareness of the detrimental effects all types of noise can have. We meet at noon at the south-east corner of Homer and Georgia Streets (north side of Library Square) in Vancouver and ask you to join us there and help with this campaign.

Participants around the world are asked to observe 1 minute of silence at 2:15 p.m. local time on that day, to emphasise the importance of our campaign for respite from ever growing chronic, unhealthy noise.

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