West Shore RCMP responded to eight calls involving youth disturbances over the weekend, adding to an influx of calls regarding at-risk youth.
The reported disturbances all took place within 72 hours, and West Shore RCMP says it’s adding to a growing trend of youth-related incidents.
On March 3:
- RCMP responded to a report of a fight involving 15 youths near the 800-block of Langford Parkway. Multiple officers attended the scene and found one youth was violating court order conditions. Charges are being considered.
- Around 100 youths were reported to be partying and drinking alcohol near Thetis Lake. All fled the scene once RCMP arrived.
- Shortly after responding to Thetis Lake, West Shore RCMP say they found one intoxicated, unconscious young male at a bus stop near the 400-block of Island Highway in View Royal. Police say the male was a part of the large group at the lake. He was taken to hospital.
On March 4:
- RCMP attended a parking lot on Merchant Way in Langford for 10 to 14 teens yelling, smoking marijuana, and causing disturbances. Police say the youths scattered before they arrived and were unable to locate them.
- Four youths were involved in an altercation at the intersection of Jacklin Road and Goldstream Avenue. RCMP say one of the youths threatened to stab another and was arrested. The suspect is facing three charges with a court date in March.
- Officers responded to a report of a fight in front of a business on the 3100 block of Jacklin Road. RCMP say one male assaulted another youth while highly intoxicated. The suspect was held overnight and released the following day. The victim did not press charges.
On March 5:
- Officers say a group of intoxicated youths was throwing garbage at a restaurant on the 800 block of Langford Parkway. The youths left before police could arrive.
- A can of pepper spray possessed by a youth was seized by RCMP. Officers say the youth was part of a larger group loitering inside a restaurant near Langford City Centre. The group was banned by management from returning.
On average, each call took an hour and required two to three officers, with that number increasing on the larger reports, according to RCMP Cpl. Nancy Saggar in a news release Tuesday.
“(It’s) the sheer amount of frustration that sometimes the officers come across. You go there, and then you got a scattering of youth all over the place, and it’s trying to figure out who is the main culprit,” said Saggar.
Connections from the past
There is a connection with some previous police incidents involving youths.
Last October, a man was stabbed at an Esso gas station in Langford, where two youths were arrested. Saggar says while these two teens weren’t involved this weekend, those close to the suspects were.
“In that stabbing incident, it wasn’t just the two suspects that were there, there was a crowd of individuals. Other youths who were witness to it, and we’re seeing those. Those people at different events that we keep continuously going to,” said Saggar.
That same month, another incident on the Galloping Goose Trail resulted in several youths being arrested. A fight between at least 10 youths resulted in one teen being stabbed.
More community policing needed
Currently, West Shore RCMP has one police officer dedicated to youth engagement. The officer works with the Pacific Centre Family Services to deal with at-risk youths.
Police say many of the teens they deal with are the same who seek help, but the demand is increasing.
“Whether it’d be with addiction, substance abuse issues, maybe there’s things happening in the family and those individuals need more guidance and resources,” said Saggar.
West Shore RCMP is calling for more officers for its frontline force and community policing. During a six-hour council meeting, the RCMP asked to budget for six more officers to meet their agreement of one officer per 750 residents in Langford.
Three officers would form a Mental Health Unit, one would go to their existing Special Victim’s Unit, and another would go to Community Policing, focusing on working with at-risk youths. The sixth would go to the RCMP’s Traffic Unit.
“Currently, other municipalities have honoured their commitments in providing previously negotiated funding for police officers, however, Langford has yet to confirm,” said West Shore RCMP Supt. Todd Preston.
Many of the reported activities over the weekend took place in ‘hotspots’, and RCMP say they’re increasing patrols to curtail youth disturbances.