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Mayor says recent incidents not representative of overall level of safety in Vernon

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September 02, 2016 - 6:30 PM

VERNON - Vernon council will meet with the city’s top cop to discuss recent incidents of violence in the community, including an alleged stabbing and assault.

Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund says the incidents have not gone unnoticed by city council, and they will be sitting down with Supt. Jim McNamara in a private meeting sometime next week to learn more about what’s going on.

“It’s to find out, do we need to be concerned? Or is it one of those instances where you have a couple incidents and suddenly everyone thinks it’s happening every day?” Mund says.

On Sunday, Aug. 28, around 9:15 p.m., two men reported being stabbed at the intersection of 37 Avenue and 31 Street. A few days later, a woman and her two friends said they were assaulted by a stranger during an altercation on 33 Street, near the Performing Arts Centre. The incidents led to a torrent of comments on social media questioning the level of safety in Vernon, however Mayor Mund is not jumping to any conclusions.

“To blow it up on social media and say ‘this is happening every day’ and not get the full story, I think people have to take a look at it and get all the facts. I don’t think we can say this is happening in Vernon to the extent people believe,” Mund says.

He says what happened to the young woman who was left with severe facial injuries was unfortunate and shouldn’t happen to anyone, but doesn’t think the isolated incident means Vernon has become unsafe. While the assault and the stabbing occurred about two blocks from each other, police have not said they are connected in any way. In both cases, police are appealing for witnesses and continue to investigate.

“It’s always concerning any time you have crime. You don’t want to discount any criminal act as not concerning,” Mund says. “The point is, how much of this criminal activity affects the general public? There is crime in every community, every day.”

He adds that people are quick to call for more police officers, but says that’s not necessarily the answer.

“People say ‘why weren’t the police there’ which is unreasonable. We could double the police force and you’re still not going to catch all of these. It’s impossible to have them (police) be everywhere waiting for something bad to happen,” he says.

“I think the reaction it (recent incidents) got by being posted on social media is Vernon is unsafe, the RCMP aren’t doing anything. And that is not the case,” Mund says.

The most recent crime stats available from the Vernon RCMP show there was a nearly ten per cent increase in criminal code cases between April and June of 2016, compared to the same time period in 2015. A large portion of that is driven by a spike in property crime such as break and enters and thefts from vehicles, although police are also investigating a string of shooting incidents believed to be linked to the street level drug trade. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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