VANCOUVER (CityNews) — After a year where Vancouver saw a steep increase in anti-Asian hate crimes, a Community Policing Centre has moved into the heart of Chinatown.
The centre has been operating since 1992, and has moved several times. Most recently, it was on the second floor of a building on Quebec Street. Volunteers are hoping the increased visibility of the storefront location at 44 East Pender Street — adjacent to the Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum — will help increase access.
— ChineseCPC華人警訊 (@ChineseCPC) May 6, 2021
Vancouver Police Department Chief Adam Palmer says these volunteer-run offices are an alternative to calling 911, or approaching a uniformed officer on the street.
“Sometimes a situation arises when you don’t want to call 911, and it’s not an emergency, but you need to talk to someone, and you need advice,” he says.
“We have a duty to keep people safe, not just statistically, but also the feeling of safety.”
Sgt. Terry Yung says people in the neighborhood have not felt safe over the last year, as anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 717 per cent.
“Seniors are more afraid now than a year ago just walking around the area,” he says, adding hateful graffiti has become commonplace.
The Chinese Cultural Centre is one of the places that found itself targetted by vandals. Board chair Fred Kwok says he’s starting to see some signs things may be starting to turn.
“For the last month the street is cleaner, less campers, less homeless,” he says, adding he’s relieved to see the new Community Policing Centre move in next door.
“I think people are eager to come out, without the fear elements. It’s something positive to look forward to.”
Police continue to encourage victims to report incidents, and say the department is working to close a language gap for online reporting of hate-related incidents.
“That should be all ready to go next week,” Palmer says.