Date: Friday, May 27, 2022
Victoria, BC – VicPD’s Youth Violence and Vandalism Interdiction and Engagement Response Team is returning to downtown Victoria for a third consecutive week as we continue our efforts to continue to deter violence and vandalism.
For the last seven weeks, officers have been responding to calls for service for violent offences and vandalism related to large groups of youths gathering in downtown Victoria and consuming alcohol and drugs. These gatherings, which have been organized by a core group via SnapChat and WhatsApp, have seen some nights in which upwards of 150 youths, split into multiple groups, have become involved in many incidents across the downtown Victoria area. These include:
- A random attack in which a 70-year-old man was swarmed by a group of 25 youths. He was left with significant, but non-life-threatening facial injuries after being kicked, punched and spat on;
- A random attack on a couple in which a woman was swarmed, followed by a group of youths, and choked;
- A random attack on an unhouse couple that saw a youth struck in the face with a flashlight;
- The swarming of a VicPD officer as he arrested a youth armed with bear spray, knives and wearing a balaclava. The officer was responding to a call for multiple youths engaged in a “bear spray fight”;
- A random attack on a couple, who fled to their vehicle, which was surrounded and damaged. A youth was sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries in this incident.
The significant majority of youths involved are from across Greater Victoria.
Officers and staff from across VicPD, including the Community Services Division (CSD), Patrol Division, Investigative Services Division (ISD) and Community Engagement Division (CED) all continue to respond.
During the first weekend of their deployment, VicPD’s Youth Violence and Vandalism Interdiction and Engagement Response Team augmented Patrol resources to establish a high-visibility presence at key locations in Downtown Victoria. During those Friday and Saturday nights, officers responded to 12 incidents, made eight arrests, and seized drugs, alcohol and knives. Of the eight youth arrested, three required medical care for intoxication. During the operation, officers were approached by staff at local businesses and members of the public, who shared stories of unreported assaults and vandalism and expressed relief at officers’ presence.
The second week of the Response Team’s deployment coincided with the May long weekend, which is typically a lower-call volume weekend. Officers’ early deployment disrupted several large gatherings, including one gathering on Dallas Road that had an estimated 50 youths in attendance. Officers seized and disposed of a large quantity of alcohol at this gathering. One young person was arrested during the deployment.
These operations have been shared during #VicPDLive Tweetalongs.
VicPD continues to work with partners including the Saanich Police Department, Oak Bay Police, the Central Saanich Police Service, West Shore RCMP and Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, as well as school districts across the regions including SD61, SD62 and SD63, private schools, municipalities, youth probation, community groups, parents, families and youths themselves to foster short, medium and long-term solutions.
Regional school districts have reached out directly to parents and caregivers to ensure that they are informed and have asked them to speak with their young family members about making safe choices downtown.
We’re seeking qualified candidates for both police officer and civilian positions. Thinking about a career in public service? Join VicPD and help us make Victoria and Esquimalt a safer community together.