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Crimes against communities

 

Crimes against communities (K Division)

 


By Sigrid Forberg

Hate crimes can have huge and long lasting impacts on a community. Members of targeted groups may lose their sense of security at home, school or in their places of worship.

And incidents may also provoke reactionary violence, vigilantism or copycats.

The Alberta Hate Crimes Committee (AHCC) has put together Beyond Hate: A Resource Toolkit as a resource for community members and police alike with the hope of helping them fight the issue in the province.

“There’s a number of groups and individuals that are unaware of what a hate crime is and how to deal with it when it happens,” says Edmonton Police Service (EPS) Det. Stephen Camp, president of the AHCC. “We try to empower and provide them with the knowledge of how to deal with it.”

The AHCC comprises volunteer members from various police agencies across the province and several government and non-government agencies.

Sgt. Darryl Urano represents the RCMP on the committee. He says the purpose of the toolkit is to give communities something that will help them respond to hate crimes as they occur, but also to help them plan proactively for these crimes.

“There are checklists so they can basically determine how prepared their communities are to combat this,” says Urano. “It’s also something tangible police officers can hand people if they’re upset about something or if they don’t really understand what a hate crime is.”

And Camp adds that it can also be helpful the other way around. In his decade of experience with both the AHCC and the EPS, he’s found that there are even police officers that are unfamiliar with what constitutes a hate crime under the Criminal Code.

“Their misinformation can sometimes cause more damage,” says Camp. “If they don’t understand what a hate crime is or how it has an impact then they won’t be prepared to respond to hate appropriately.”

The toolkit, available through the AHCC website, is also not just specific to Alberta. Camp says as the toolkit was being developed, they made sure that the resources and information could easily be adapted for any community dealing with hate-motivated crimes.