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Lock down your donation boxes

Christmas is coming. If you are a retailer or a non-profit organization, now is the time to improve the security of your charitable donation boxes.

It happens so many times each year during the holiday season across the United States and Canada.  A prolific offender goes into a coffee shop, or a hardware store, or a nice boutique shop in the local mall. Really, it can happen anywhere that generous employees and business owners are collecting money for those in need. The thief grabs the donation box from the retail counter, fleeing with $30 or $40 in small change.

Inevitably this preventable crime gets huge media attention. Didn’t the suspect realize that money was for children? Who would commit such a vile act? (The answer: usually someone who is desperately seeking money to buy heroin or crack cocaine.)

McDonalds has this problem figured out. If you look at their donation boxes, they are made of metal and secured to their front counter. You need a key to open them. They are largely tamper proof:

McDonalds Donation Box

If drilling into your front counter is not an option, try improvising. Perhaps buy a security cable and a combination lock:

A security cable for donation boxes

Use a sturdy donation box made of thick plastic, wood, or metal (not cardboard). Another option is to order a donation box off the Internet. I can’t recommend any products but if you Google “secure donation box” you will probably find what you need. Finally, empty the box on a regular basis – don’t wait until after Christmas.

Saanich Police Board meeting

This afternoon I went to my first Saanich Police Board meeting.

The police board is chaired by Mayor Frank Leonard. I didn’t really want to go to the meeting, but this particular police board is one of the least transparent in the province. It is one of only two municipal police boards in British Columbia that refuse to publish meeting minutes or agendas online. This is contrary to the recommendations (on page 119) of a substantial report from the Justice Institute on police governance. As a result if you want to find out anything about what the Saanich Police Board is doing, you have to go there in person.

The meeting itself highlighted a lot of amazing, innovative work done by Saanich police officers. This is why it’s surprising that the police board won’t put the minutes of these meetings online. It is a real disservice to those officers.

I also learned a few interesting tidbits. The Saanich Police Department is restarting its Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) program after a year-long privacy review. They are also cancelling police camp. Apparently it costs too much and not enough kids were actually from the District of Saanich. (According to the 2012 numbers: 24 youth attending police camp were from Saanich, the other 25 youth were from neighbouring municipalities.)

I’m glad I went to this meeting, particularly since I live in Saanich, but my original point remains: the Saanich Police Board should be posting its minutes and agendas online. This kind of basic transparency is a reasonable expectation of Saanich residents (who collectively pay more than $31 million in policing costs each year).

Ten interviews and presentations about drugs

Here are a few interviews and presentations about my work with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:

  1. “Groundbreaking” conversation with Halifax police chief Jean-Michel Blais
  2. Interview with the Maui Time newspaper in Hawaii
  3. Senate committee testimony regarding Bill C-15
  4. Senate committee testimony regarding Bill S-10
  5. Essay in the Ottawa Citizen about the Vienna Declaration
  6. Essay in the Vancouver Sun about gang violence
  7. Rethinking Drug Prohibition – a profile in Vancouver Magazine (Paul Webster won the 2013 Stephen Hanson award for this)
  8. Nine minute interview at a 2009 conference organized by Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  9. Three minute interview with CTV news
  10. Interview with Metro News in Halifax