Ridge Meadows RCMP are telling Cliff Avenue residents who are fed up with the homeless campsite in front of their houses that they know they’re frustrated and angry, but don’t become vigilantes.
“Many of them are angry to the point where they’re actually starting to take matters into their own hands,” said Supt. Dave Fleugel.
He made the comments Monday on Global BC’s news show Unfiltered, which featured interviews with him and Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read.
“Leave the policing to the police,” Fleugel said.
Police are ready and able to respond to calls for service, which have increased in the area behind the Salvation Army’s Caring Place, this year compared to last.
“We’re coping with it. We can’t continue to cope with it forever. It has to come to a successful resolution,” Fleugel said.
RCMP civilian spokesman Dan Herbranson echoed Fleugel’s response Tuesday.
“We monitor Facebook and from time to time people indicate they may take the law into their own hands,” he said.
“If people plan on taking the law into their own hands, they’ll find themselves charged. When we’re enforcing the laws, we’re enforcing the laws for all people.”
Area resident Matthew Bosco said groups of people are walking or driving around the streets near the camp just to show that people are watching.
“I think most definitely they have taken things into their own hands. I don’t know if you’d call it vigilantism. If we go out and see a shopping buggy in the middle of the street, that looks like stolen goods in it, we will clean it out.”
But no one’s going to put their lives at risk or create a confrontation.
It’s just a matter of residents who live in the area being seen, Bosco said.
“Just keeping an eye on things,” he added.
“That’s all it takes is just for them to realize, we’re out there watching them.”
He tries to get out with others or by himself in his truck a couple times a week.
Bosco says police can’t be there all the time and residents just make the phone calls to RCMP, even though he knows that police can’t get to every call.
“Every day, with more and more of them moving here, it’s getting harder for the police …
Bosco said there are other camps around Maple Ridge and that there are more than 65 people living on Cliff Avenue.
“The problem is not the homeless. The problem is not the mentally ill,” he added.
“Everyone in Maple Ridge feels insecure because of the drug addicts that are going through the backyards, the driveways … leaving needles in the front yards where kids can step on them, public parks.
“Nobody feels safe anywhere. It’s not the homeless problem that’s making us feel uneasy.”
He acknowledges there’s a mix of homeless, mentally ill and drug addicts in the camp, but that there is more of the latter. And he said most homeless people don’t want to move to Cliff Avenue because it’s too dangerous.
Police have responded to at least three fights at the camp in the last two months.
One last week involved a baseball bat. Previous, a woman lost part of a finger.