Rick Eldridge admits he’s lost his temper, but wants to go back to being a security guard and patrolling West Victoria Street, which he says needs a better police presence.
Former security guard Lapper left the profession when video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a homeless storage facility at 48 Victoria Street West on March 17. a man cursing Eldridge, who tackled him to the ground and kicked him before the man got up and the situation finally escalated.
Eldridge said the video did not show what led to the altercation.
He said he was trying to move the man, a person he dealt with on a daily basis, out of the no-lane zone on the side of the building, but the man pushed him after telling him to leave. Eldridge said he responded with a knee on the man’s stomach. Eldridge said the man fell to the ground, stood up, continued the argument and spat in his face, which led to what was filmed.
“I lost him. I don’t like people spitting in my face,” Eldridge said, noting that he felt he was defending himself when the man spat in his face, although he did. admitted that the knee could be excessive.
The video, however, ruined his life, Eldridge said, noting that he received 20 death threats in a day after it was broadcast.
Feeling unsafe at work, he gave two weeks’ notice and was reassigned, but said he was fired during this time and his security guard license was temporarily suspended by the Division. the security programs of the Department of Public Security and the Solicitor General.
Without a job and not yet on EI, Eldridge said he lost the apartment he was renting, finding himself homeless and sleeping in his car along the road he once patrolled.
Eldridge now hopes to return to security work.
He said an investigator was reviewing his license suspension and said he was recommending the license be reinstated.
If Eldridge gets his license back, he wants to start doing his own security work, perhaps securing contracts with individual West Victoria Street businesses once Lapper has contracted with the municipality, BC Housing and the ‘Canadian Mental Health Association for the region completed.
“I really like these people,” Eldridge said, noting that many business owners have written him letters of support for his license review. “The business owners on this street are some of the most amazing people in this city – they supported me from the start, so I want to stay on this street, I want to protect these businesses.”
Audra Domich, owner of Audra’s Day Spa on Victoria Street West, said she misses Eldridge on patrol.
“The only time we felt like we had a security guard was when he was there,” Domich said.
Domich said Eldridge was a constant presence and that he would check in all the time – which she said the other Lapper Guards haven’t been since leaving.
Eldridge said he had received assurances from a funder to start his security company, adding that a street business was ready to donate space for an office.
Meanwhile, Eldridge has handed out cards for the Vision Quest Salvage Center in Logan Lake to anyone along Victoria Street West who wants one. He said he wanted to see more efforts to help the marginalized and homeless population, which he pointed out as being the root of most of the problems for businesses along the street.
Crimes against property, drug use and harmful behavior have become well known along the way, which has been concentrated with the support of social agencies.
Eldridge thinks there needs to be better security and a better police presence in the area. He also believes the RCMP have left the streets, citing examples of incidents he has become aware of, in which business owners called the police about an incident but received no response. indicating that their appeal was not fully investigated.
Earlier this month, Domich said he called both security and police after a man in his parking lot brandished a large knife at her husband before running away. She said half an hour had passed before a security guard responded, but noted that no RCMP officer had shown up to date to take her statement or seize the knife, that her husband had managed to take away from the man.
Eldridge believes that a community policing office on Victoria Street West with a single officer would deter crime along the street, especially if that officer periodically patrolled with security personnel.
“That would bring it down a bit,” he said. “It’s not going to solve it, but they would see a police presence and if he got in trouble I guarantee there would be 10 police cars here.”
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