The police officer looking into reports of bullying at Sidney’s skate park says the facility is “very safe,” but also acknowledges that more investigative work remains.
Const. Paul Mittelsteadt, community policing officer for Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, said he has been talking to children using the skateboard park after the appearance of a post on a local Facebook site warning of bullying at the skate park facility, itself part of Tulista Park.
“The kids I have spoken to were very surprised to hear (about bullying),” he said. “We haven’t maybe been talking to the right people, the people who were expressing their views on social media. Obviously, we are very concerned. This is not a short-term fix for us. This is something that we will be policing on a regular basis from now on.”
Mittelsteadt said police have not yet received any formal complaints and lack details about any potential suspect. While police have a description of someone who may be involved, it is insufficient to identify any person, he said.
This said, police are taking the issue seriously, having stepped up its presence at the park, since the post dated May 22 had first emerged on a local Facebook site.
“Bullying at the Sidney Skate (Park) and community is unbelievable,” read the post by Sabrina Kjm Gauthier. “There are a group of kids who keep bullying other kids, think it’s just OK to be predators and take advantage of others for their own amusement. It shames me to think that it might be time to move out of Sidney because it is no longer a safe place to raise your kids.”
Mittelsteadt said he is going through the available evidence, including the various social media posts, and hopes to eventually speak to Gauthier.
“She could call us anytime, and I would be more happy to meet with her.”
In the meantime, he added, parents can feel comfortable the park is very safe when looking at the big picture. While the park is open to a wide range of people, they have for the most part shown respect for other users, Mittelsteadt said.
“I drive by every day looking at the park, and it is functioning great,” he said. “Again, we are not naive. We know it is not perfect. We know that there are times, where we get the odd person in there, who is being difficult. But at the same time, we want people to know if they call us, we will respond.”
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