Mayor John Dooley says that while considerable progress has been made over the last year in regards to the safety of Nelson’s streets, the COVID pandemic has made policing and prosecuting difficult. 

Speaking on KCR’s Kootenay Morning show Friday, the mayor says COVID 19 has amplified the homeless and transient situation on Baker Street.  

Dooley was interviewed following this week’s death of Constable Allan Young, an off-duty police officer from Abbotsford who died in hospital from injuries sustained during an altercation on Nelson’s main street.

You can listen to the 10-minute interview here.

Noting that his first thoughts were for the family of the well-liked police officer, Dooley says the Nelson Police Department needs help due to the challenges COVID has created in policing and the judicial process.

We need help at this point in time because COVID has created a lot of barriers to get people into court and through the court system and that needs to change. Otherwise we continue to have people on the street who in normal times would be elsewhere. 

Dooley also said police have been left to deal with difficult situations that require social service professionals. 

Some people would suggest just defund the police, and other people would suggest take money from the police and put it into social services. But the reality is: why would you want to do that, why wouldn’t we want to just have a much more robust social service that was dealing with people properly instead of what is currently a nine-to-five operation.

Once you get past five o’clock the police service is left to deal with issues that are social services.

The man arrested in connection with Young’s death is facing charges of Aggravated Assault. 

Also this week, Nelson Supreme Court delivered two verdicts on two previous acts of violence on Baker Street. 

One, in 2018, resulted in the death of Matt Reeder — on the same block as the incident that cost Young his life. Miles Halverson was sentenced to five years Wednesday. 

The other incident involved the stabbing of two people in September 2019. 

The accused, Fiona Coyle, was found not criminally responsible for the stabbing, because of her mental state. 

Friday, a Nelson supreme court judge ruled that Coyle suffered from schizophrenia and was not capable of knowing the attack was wrong.