The Abbotsford, B.C., police chief has ordered an investigation into allegations the city's officers destroyed tents belonging to homeless people, in a second controversy over how the city treats its homeless.
"Slashing tents is something we've heard a lot of over the years, where they'll go in and they'll use a knife or whatever to cut up tents, but the [use of] bear mace is the new thing," said Pastor Ward Draper of The 5 and 2 Ministries, a Christian charity which helps Abbotsford's homeless.
"They'll open the tent and coat everything inside so it's absolutely useless," Draper said.
The new allegation comes less than two weeks after the city manager was forced to apologize for dumping manure in a park in an effort to chase away the homeless.
The latest allegations — this time against the police — were made at a community consultation held last week in the wake of the chicken manure scandal.
About a dozen tents belonging to homeless people had been slashed in the last three months, Draper told a meeting of the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee.
On Friday, Chief Const. Bob Rich asked the B.C. Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner — an independent agency that oversees public complaints against the police — to look into the incident, a police spokesman said.
"There weren't specific officers that were cited and there wasn't a location that was provided," said Const. Ian MacDonald.
"But we were concerned enough with the suggestion Abbotsford police officers were involved that we decided an investigation was necessary and it was necessary with civilian oversight," he added.
MacDonald said police are urging anyone with information to come forward. He said that if any of the allegations are proven, the force will hold the officers involved accountable.