VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — After several incidents in Mount Pleasant of women reporting they have been followed by men, some are critiquing the Vancouver Police Department for claiming there was no risk to the public last week.
Stacey Forrester is the co-founder of Good Night Out Vancouver, a volunteer group that offers street patrols on the Granville Strip to help people protect people form harassment, and to make sure they get home safe.
For Forrester, last Friday’s statement from police saying they had not identified a “risk to public safety” didn’t ring true, given the concerns she was hearing from the community.
“It sort of gives the impression that they don’t think that anything’s going on which is definitely a contrast to what my social media feed is saying. There’s many what seems like similar incidences,” she notes.
Many of you have contacted us with concerns about recent social media posts about incidents alleged to have happened in Mount Pleasant. At this point, there doesn’t appear anything to indicate a threat to public safety. If you see something suspicious, please report it to police. pic.twitter.com/V9iOMRIVPB
— Vancouver Police (@VancouverPD) September 25, 2020
Forrester says when people, especially people who are already vulnerable to violence like women and racialized people, are experiencing fear — there is a safety concern.
“Safety is also about a feeling, whether or not crime rates are high,” she notes.
“We shouldn’t wait until it escalates to realize that there’s a problem when there’s people within the community saying I don’t feel safe walking home from work, or home from school or wherever it is. The community should have systems in place to respond to that.”
She notes community-driven initiatives like hers, and a recently launched Safe Walk program in Mount Pleasant focus on prevention.
“Police, often they exist to respond after something has happened.”
#VPDNews: the Vancouver Police Department is asking the public to continue reporting incidents to #9-1-1 if their safety (or someone they know) is at risk. Please see the attached update. pic.twitter.com/pfBMx9tCSc
— Vancouver Police (@VancouverPD) September 28, 2020
On Monday, police took to Twitter to say they are continuing to receive reports “about a suspicious male approaching females.”
It outlines steps police are taking to respond to safety concerns, like stepping up patrols and assigning sex crimes detectives.
With files from Lisa Steacy