Port Coquitlam councillor debunks hate crime data

Steve Darling said it's "inaccurate" to lump PoCo in with other much-larger cities, reports are fewer than indicated in magazine article and are mostly graffiti

A Port Coquitlam councillor is taking issue with a national magazine’s claim that the city is one of the top 10 for hate crimes in the country.

Steve Darling, who is PoCo’s liaison for community safety, said Macleans magazine over-exaggerated the rate of racist or other hate crimes when it lumped the city in with other Canadian burgs that have much larger populations.

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PoCo is listed in the top 10 of Canadian cities in the Dec. 12, 2018 article posted online because it had reportedly had 11.8 incidents per 100,000 people between 2016 and 2017.

But Darling said the RCMP’s statistics for the same period is just eight, and they are mostly racist graffiti images, and the city has just 60,000 population so it shouldn’t be listed with comparable cities of 100,000 or more, including Vancouver, which has a population of more than 600,000.

“Any incident is alarming but I think that is inaccurate,” Darling said.

According to the Macleans article, the source of the information is Statistics Canada data for police services covering populations of at least 50,000 people although police service coverage areas may be different from municipal boundaries.

In the Tri-Cities Coquitlam RCMP covers both the cities of PoCo and Coquitlam.

Darling said the city has zero tolerance for hate crime, including nasty graffiti that targets religions or special groups, and immediately deals with any instances, including getting the police involved.

“This kind of stuff can’t be tolerated and shouldn’t be tolerated,” he said.

Still, there have been some high profile incidents in the city in recent years. In July 2016, a Port Coqutilam daycare van was splashed with racist graffiti on Canada Day and in October, 2012, a vandal left bacon at a PoCo Muslim mosque.

Darling said the city — and local schools — work hard to promote an attitude of tolerance and understanding towards diverse groups and individuals and the city recognizes that inclusion is an important to building a strong community.

Still, if and when racist graffiti or other activity occurs, the police should crack down to make sure it doesn’t spread.

“If they find someone doing this, they have to take action,” Darling said. “One (act of racism) is too many.”

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