Delta Police focusing on troubled youths

DELTA Police said on Friday that they have identified a number of youths behind an increase in graffiti and vandalism in Ladner over the past few months. Incidents include private vehicles being spray painted, public washrooms in parks being vandalized, a restaurant targeted with derogatory graffiti and a broken window at a business.

Constable Ken Kirk, who is head of the District Community Police Office in Ladner, has now identified all the youths involved in those instances, and has spoken both with them and their parents/guardians.

“Given the ages of those involved – averaging 13 and 14 in grades 8 and 9 – I wanted to ensure we dealt with this via education as a first step,” said Kirk.

He has involved the Delta School District, the Delta Police School Liaison Officers as well as the police youth team, which works with youths with more complex needs. Options to provide positive activities for teens during the pandemic are also being explored, as many typical activities may be curtailed now.

“Our concern is that we want to ensure these kids get on the right path, and that they have the resources in place to support them,” said Kirk. He’s also taken tougher measures when needed, seizing drugs, and in one instance recently, a 16-year-old was arrested after alternative measures had failed. In that instance he caught the teen in the act of committing vandalism.

“We’re trying to ensure we deal with this as a community. We’re working with local businesses, property management companies and the City of Delta to provide estimates of repair costs.” said Kirk. “The possibility of restitution is an option that we would like to explore.”

He emphasized that it’s a small group of teens, but acknowledged the challenge is that collectively they might be hurting the overall reputation of youths in the community. “We have a lot of really good kids here in Ladner – some of them even volunteered for Delta Police – and I don’t want to create any wrong impressions. But I know there’s been frustration with the ongoing vandalism, so I wanted to provide an update to the community.”

Parents are also asked to speak with their children about the negative impacts of graffiti and vandalism. If parents or students hear rumours or information about damage being done, or planned to be done, ask students to report this to a trusted adult, police said.