Port Moody Police looks to draft new policy as B.C. faces ‘reckoning’ on hate

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When it comes to racial, religious and gender-based hatred, British Columbia is facing a reckoning, according to the province’s Human Rights Commissioner.

Commissioner Kasari Govender recently released a lengthy report on hate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After reviewing the mountain of evidence presented in this report, it is impossible to deny that we are at a reckoning. In our polarized society, we must be decisive in our compassion and creative in devising non-violent responses to hate,” the report stated.


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The 482-page inquiry details a rise in hate based on race and religion, as well as incidents of hatred directed at homeless people, women, migrant workers, health communicators, politicians, “and so many more.”

“We cannot be surprised by the rise of hate in future states of crisis. We must confront what we have experienced during the pandemic and take action now to prevent it from happening again.”

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Amid crimes ranging from violent assaults to graffiti, and threats, police-reported hate crimes rose about 72 percent over two years, marking the largest number of total hate crimes since comparable data became available in 2009.

However, those figures are likely under-reported, according to BC Hate Crimes. The organization listed factors ranging from fear of retaliation to language barriers and fear of the police as reasons why incidents go unreported.

The purple line represents the overall number of hate incidents. The yellow line refers to incidents relating to race of ethnicity. The blue line represents incidents relating to religion and the orange line signifies incidents around gender or sexual orientation. image supplied

“We heard about people calling non-emergency police lines [to report hate incidents] and waiting extended periods of time before anyone answered,” the report stated.

Port Moody

The majority of police departments have policies on investigating hate incidents, according to the report, “except for the Port Moody Police Department and the Metro Vancouver Transit Police,” the report stated.

However, that may be changing, according to PMPD Sgt. Fraser Renard.

“It is our intention to create a policy as we are in the midst of a multi-year policy renewal project for all department policies, and this important subject is on our radar,” Renard wrote to the Dispatch.

Renard noted that there are no BC Provincial Policing Standards that requires police agencies to have a hate crime policy, “nor is there any mandated hate crime training for BC police,” Renard wrote.

Officers learn investigative training at police academy as well as on the job, Renard added.

“The most common advanced training equips us to carry out thorough investigations of all kinds, and the principles are also applicable to special circumstances such as hate crimes,” Renard wrote.

Over in Coquitlam

In 2022, Coquitlam RCMP kicked off a pilot project that allowed residents to report Hate Motivated Incidents to police through an online reporting system.

The project was about aiding public safety, explained Coquitlam RCMP media relations officer Const. Deanna Law in 2022.

“We wanted to offer an additional way to report Hate Motivated Incidents, regardless of whether or not it brings us to the point where we have the authority to make an arrest,” Law stated.

In its first year, 13 incidents have been reported using the online reporting tool.

“There’s only one that actually met the definition for a hate motivated crime,” explained Coquitlam RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Alexa Hodgins.

As the tool is relatively new and only available in Coquitlam and North Vancouver, residents “might not know that it’s there,” Hodgins said.

Coquitlam RCMP are looking to let more people know about the option of reporting online. The tool could be especially useful for a non-English speaker who could use Google Translate or similar software to report a hate incident, Hodgins added.

Legal problems

The legal response to the uptick in hatred have been “largely ineffective,” according to the report. The commissioner noted a “very small numbers of prosecutions compared to the reports of hate emerging from community,” as well as the general inaccessibility of the civil justice system.

The commissioner also found “data quality issues or limitations” in terms of hate incidents tracked by police.

“There was significant inconsistency in how incidents were entered into the police information management system and many fields had missing or incomplete data,” the report stated.

The inconsistent data was evident in other areas of the justice system, according to the report.

“There is no tracking of when hate is considered an aggravating factor in sentencing,” the report stated.

The commissioner’s report recommended redirecting police budgets to: “add additional and mandatory training for new police officers and for ongoing professional development on hate crimes response.”

Another approach

With solid funding, community responses to hate can be effective.

“In particular, community organizations are shown to be effective in supporting those who have experienced hate, as well as in providing exit avenues for those who have perpetrated hate,” the report stated.

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