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Former cop, probation officer running for city council

Richard Cook served as a northern B.C. area manager for the provincial government, prior to his retirement in 2002.

A former police officer, probation officer and northern B.C. area manager for the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology is running for city council.

Richard ‘Rick’ Cook has been retired since 2002, but his neighbours convinced him to put his name forward for city council after months of inaction by the city to address the level of noise coming from Masich Place Stadium.

“I’ve been to city hall since October of last year,” Cook said. “All of the noise during the day, it’s harmful to our young people our elderly people. You can’t sit outside and enjoy your book.”

The noise from the stadium can be heard as far away as Highway 16, he added. He was also moved after reading a letter to the editor by Louise Sarrazin in the Citizen about the noise level from events held at Exhibition Park this summer.

“I went to that rock concert at CN Centre. All the people who went will have permanent ear damage,” he said. “They gave them a permit to make noise. (City councillor and event promoter Kyle) Sampson is a nice guy, but who made that decision?”

Cook said he’s “running a very cheap campaign” and doesn’t plan to put up any campaign signs around town.

“I’m on a budget and I intend to stick to that budget,” he said. “We have a budget and if I’m elected to council, we’ll stick to it. The budget you get is the budget you work within. We have to learn to say no to things.”

His experience as a police officer in London, Ont., a probation officer in Prince George and area manger for alcohol and drug treatment programs across northern B.C. has given him insight into the situation facing the city’s downtown today.

“It’s not a homeless problem, it’s a drug problem. They’re homeless because they’re on drugs…” he said. “You’ll never get the drug dealers out of business, as long as there are lots of people using them. These guys are selling the stuff, and the buyers can’t say no.”

The city needs to advocate for additional long-term addiction treatment options in the north, Cook said. The under-used youth correctional facility in Prince George would be an ideal location, he added.

“It’s going to take money and it is going to take about a year in treatment. Once you get them six months, and they’re off the drugs, then you can get them back into the workforce,” he said. “They know they shouldn’t be doing it… and they know society hates them. They are not stupid. They are still human beings.”

As a former police officer, Cook said as a councillor he’d like to hear from frontline RCMP officers about what can be done to improve safety in the city’s downtown. But simply rounding people up and arresting them isn’t the solution, he said.

“Once you go to jail, it’s very unlikely you’ll get out (of the criminal life) until your mid-forties,” Cook said. “If you’re lucky, you meet a bureaucrat who is human to you.”