A few weeks back I was witness to an intoxicated individual damaging property. The individual broke through the neighbours hedge, attempted to break in to the neighbouring house through a window, then got back into his truck and drove away. Later, he drove back, smashed into a fence with his truck, and slumped over the steering wheel of his truck to wait for his friend to come home.
The police decided he was doing nothing wrong. Even after a second party advised they witnessed this person driving the vehicle and smashing into the fence, he did nothing wrong.
I myself thought the individual was guilty of public intoxication, vandalism, attempted break and enter, and driving while intoxicated. Apparently I was incorrect. Public intoxication is not a crime. It was brought to my attention last week when I was given a link to "The Intoxicated Persons Detention Act". The Act is part of the laws of the province of Manitoba. Section 4 of the Act states "Any provision of an Act of Legislature, or of a regulation made thereunder, or of a by-law of a municipality or local government district, creating an offence of, or prohibiting a person from, being drunk or intoxicated in a public place is no longer applicable."
Now, I get that we cannot outlaw drinking and being intoxicated in public. We are not in the prohibition era. Most Canadians enjoy a beverage or two, some may say it's part of our culture. We have socials, beer gardens, and all sorts of events that include the drinking of alchoholic beverages. But what about those who over-indulge?
What about the individuals who are loudly walking down the street, causing others to fear for their safety? What about those who fall asleep in parks, on benches, and in bus shelters? What about the intoxicated people who leave parties and later engage in violent acts against the innocent? Where does the law stand regarding those intoxicated individuals?
According to the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act in section 2(1), "Where a peace officer finds in a place to which the public has access a person who is intoxicated, he may take that person into custody". So, the peace officer has the right, but is not obligated, to take the intoxicated individual into custody.
How many violent acts have been committed by intoxicated individuals in the City of Winnipeg this year? How many murders were at the hands of intoxicated individuals? And how many of these people could have been taken into custody prior to their acts of violence?
How many intoxicated individuals do the Police have to deal with on a daily, or nightly basis? And how many do they know on a first name basis from repeat incidences?
And why am I irritated regarding laws allowing public intoxication? I guess that's what you really want to know. Why do I have such a bee in my bonnet about public intoxication? And how has public intoxication affected me you may ask.
Well, I make sure my car doors are locked when driving down Main Street. I have always done that. And it is because of the intoxicated people along the street.
I watch for jay walking pedestrians, especially when driving down Main Street and Selkirk Avenue. I refer to those strips as "The Gauntlet". One never knows when someone under the influence is going to cross the street.
When walking in the North End I use caution when passing individuals who are under the influence.
When I worked downtown, I bicycled to work in the summer months, and often had to pass highly intoxicated individuals. I was always careful to watch them, not trusting what they might do. I actually stopped bicycling after a few incidences along my journeys to and from work.
Every time I drive down Main Street, past the Thunderbird House and the Bars by Sutherland Ave, I wonder why there are so many intoxicated people on the grass, on benches, and on the sidewalks. I wonder how they can be allowed to sit there, or lean against a building, with beer cans in their hands at all hours of the day.
I wondered why nothing was ever done about such a large number of intoxicated individuals lining one of the major streets in our City. And I guess I got an answer last week, when I was given the link to The Intoxicated Persons Detention Act.
So now I ask YOU, what is wrong with this policy?