RCMP pull back on Facebook plea in Maple Ridge

Request for statements from witnesses published verbatim in Facebook group.

  • Sep. 28, 2016 8:00 a.m.

Ridge Meadows RCMP are reversing course in seeking the public’s help investigating a panhandler in downtown Maple Ridge.

An e-mail from the RCMP was sent earlier Wednesday to the Facebook group, Protecting Maple Ridge, asking the group to ask its members to contact police if they’ve been bothered by the particular panhandler.

The statements by the people accosted or intimidated, could be e-mailed or dropped off at the detachment.

Police however were just trying to get the group to pass on the message rather than post the police’s own words.

“Information was released through informal channels earlier today which is not our standard practice,” said Supt. Dave Fleugel in a Wednesday release.

“I asked for those postings to be to be removed and directed our team to release the request for information through our formal communications channels so that we can move forward with the investigation as quickly as possible,” Fleugel said.

He said he was aware that people are concerned about the panhandler’s behaviour.

But, “We have zero tolerance for vigilantism and hate speech.  The cooperation of the public is essential for us to gather the evidence we need to deal with these reports. We cannot have citizens take matters into their own hands.,” Fleugel said.

“The RCMP do not conduct investigations on social media at all. Police are asking for anyone who has been a victim, or a witness, to this aggressive panhandler to contact our office. This information will be given to the lead investigator for the proper followup.”

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read saw the posting earlier today and asked those on social media not to share it.

“We do not want to promote vigilantism and hate towards people who are poor. If we have a person who is threatening the safety of citizens, especially the elderly, we need to work with the RCMP to ensure that this person is off the streets as quickly as possible.  It is equally important that we continue to work with the support agencies to get her the help she needs,” she said in the release.

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