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VPD forms team as response to high rate of hate crimes during COVID-19 pandemic

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Jul 17, 2020 at 9:07 pm PDT

Summary

Hate-related incidents continue to occur in Vancouver at a higher rate than normal during the COVID-19 pandemic

Investigators are currently working on 35 files regarding incidents classified as potential hate crimes

Charges have been recommended to Crown Counsel on 16 hate-related files

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The Vancouver Police Department has formed a special hate-crime project team as such incidents continue to occur in the city at a higher rate than normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those targeting Asian communities.

Investigators are currently working on 35 files regarding incidents classified as potential hate crimes, says a release from the Vancouver Police Department.

Charges have been recommended to Crown Counsel on 16 of those.

The police department has identified 155 hate-associated reports so far this year, up from 69 hate-associated reports during the same time last year.

To date, 103 files have been concluded with either no suspect or evidence to identify a suspect, VPD says.

“This does not eliminate the possibility, however, that these files could be reactivated at a later date should more evidence arise.”

The department issued a similar report in May to create awareness and encourage victims of racism to come forward.

“We are seeing an uptick in reports coming into police, which gives us confidence that the public is hearing our plea,” says Const. Tania Visintin.

“This remains a top priority for the Vancouver Police, as crimes against race, gender and sexual orientation are serious and intolerable,” she adds. “We recognize this continues to be a problem in our city. We are making it our goal to combat it as quickly as possible.”

RELATED: Anti-Asian hate crimes on the rise in Vancouver; police say increase is ‘disturbing’

VPD Insp. Dale Weidman said most of the incidents have occurred in the northeast part of the city and the downtown area.

“What we do is we increase foot patrols, for example, and we increase the police presence down there,” he added.

Other measures to assist in combatting hate crimes:

  • police are using data and analytics to increase police presence in harder-hit areas;
  • new reporting forms for hate incidents are available in Chinese to remove language as a barrier to reporting;
  • and officers continue to reach out to the community. A recent Zoom meeting had more than 300 participates tuned in for awareness about hate incidents and police response.

Anyone who is a victim of a hate crime is asked to call 9-1-1. Non-emergency incidents can be reported by calling 604-717-3321 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.