Delta police are reporting a significant rise in hate crimes so far this year, echoing a trend seen across Metro Vancouver.
According to release issued Thursday morning (April 15), 10 incidences of suspected hate crimes were reported to Delta police from March 29 to April 12, ranging from complaints of racial slurs being yelled in public or at store employees, to instances of racist graffiti at parks and schools, and even an assault involving racist remarks that resulted in a minor injury to the victim.
“In all of 2020, Delta police recorded 12 instances of suspected hate crimes,” Deputy Chief Harj Sidhu, who is responsible for operational policing in Delta, said in a press release. “This year we have seen 15 incidents of hate crime from January through to mid-April.”
Approximately two thirds of all instances were categorized as mischief such as graffiti. Of the 10 most recent incidences, racial slurs and anti-Semitic graffiti were the most common behaviours noted, and police believe the same individual or individuals may be responsible for multiple instances of graffiti.
In regard to the assault, a suspect was arrested at scene and police anticipate the individual will be charged.
Noting all types of hate crimes are unacceptable, police say Delta has not seen the trend in anti-Asian hate crime that other jurisdictions have experienced during the pandemic.
In 2020, the Delta Police Department created the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit (EDIU), a three-person team led by Staff Sgt. Sukh Sidhu that is intended to centralize the DPD’s efforts to engage with Delta’s diverse, faith-based and not-for-profit community groups, leaders and organizations.
“We’re looking internally as well, reviewing processes, procedures and policies, including recruiting practices and training,” Staff Sgt. Sidhu said in a press release. “We have a very comprehensive process underway, and have engaged an impartial third-party to offer perspective.”
The EDIU recently distributed a “Hate Crime Tool Kit” to 28 faith-based organizations in Delta. It provides a quick guide on reporting crimes — and suspected hate based crimes, specifically — within the community, and is available online for anyone to reference.
“We recognize that hate-motivated incidents are too often not reported in Canada, and we strongly encourage everyone to report any and all known or suspected incidents to police,” Deputy Chief Sidhu said. “I want to reassure the community that the Delta Police Department takes reports of hate crimes very seriously, and will investigate to the fullest extent possible.”