There’s been a community uproar of sorts this week in the aftermath of stabbing incidents, and other violence that spilled into downtown Chilliwack.
Swift action is being demanded from City of Chilliwack officials and the RCMP.
“It’s been a very tough week for our beautiful little Chilliwack,” Mayor Sharon Gaetz told the Progress.
She and other members of council have been watching in shock like everyone else, as the incidents played out in rapid succession like a horrible ballet.
Strong reactions from citizens are coming in to this week’s multiple reports of several stabbings and a fatal train incident, with several posting their fears and concerns and demanding more policing patrols for downtown.
“People are feeling panicky, but it’s good to keep in mind they are not the targets,” Gaetz stated.
The stabbings in downtown Chilliwack are believed by investigating officers to be of a common theme, she said.
“That’s the nature of the criminal element. They go after each other, they fight each other, and that may push our crime stats really high, but the average citizen is not the target in these crimes.”
Victims were all targeted because of their criminal activity — except for the unfortunate cyclist who was struck while in the “wrong place at the wrong time.” There has been no update on the cyclist’s condition.
Some don’t realize that 90 per cent of the crimes are committed by the 10 per cent of repeat offenders.
“We are working hard to get these prolific offenders off the streets.”
But deploying more police is only part of the answer, Gaetz said.
Chilliwack’s crime is not out of control compared to other cities, she noted.
“Our averages are comparable to others in terms of crime. All of us in the Lower Mainland are struggling with public safety issues.”
A joint task force is making headway.
Part of the problem with the uproar over the crime situation is that people are too quick to post and share distorted and incorrect information on social media, without checking the veracity of any of it.
“They are slamming the RCMP, and Mayor and Council, because they are angry and upset, and we get that.
“I would encourage people rather than relying on social media, get the information from credible sources.
“Social media is entertainment, not news,” she said.
Now she is particularly worried about the fate of the witnesses.
There could be traumatic after-effects impacting those who saw scenes of violence downtown, and a visit to one’s doctor could be in order.
City leaders across the UBCM are also going to ask the provinces for more resources to target prolific offenders, and more funding for mental health and addictions.
“We have been actively working every year to add more RCMP officers to our force, and right now there is a staffing shortfall, and it’s being covered.”
Everyone wants to protect that small-town feeling Chilliwack has been known for, and residents can take action by joining Block Watch or Citizens on Patrol, or attending a public safety committee meeting at City Hall.
“There are ways to roll up your sleeves and get to work,” she said.