Thunder Bay Police have issued a press release about a meeting between Chief JP Levesque and Guardian Angel chapter leader Ian Hodgkinson, who is looking to set up a new chapter in the city.
The two met on Tuesday, when Hodgkinson outlined his role as representing the Guardian Angels — an international volunteer organization that promotes public safety through a variety of violence prevention programs.
“From the discussions with Mr. Hodgkinson, it would appear that the Guardian Angels goal in Canada is to focus on mentorship and safety programs aimed at youth,” the police press release stated.
“Safety patrols, as established by previous Guardian Angel chapters, are not on the interim agenda for Mr. Hodgkinson.”
The statement noted the chief asked Hodgkinson to develop a plan that outlines the Guardian Angels’ intentions in Thunder Bay and clarifies that the group is committed to assisting youth of all backgrounds.
"The Guardian Angels appear to be evolving and have the potential to have a positive effect on youth and public safety," Levesque stated in the press release.
Screening will be required
The volunteer foot soldiers made their name in New York City close to 30 years ago, but haven't been received warmly everywhere they go, with critics questioning their effectiveness in reducing crime and accusing them of vigilantism.
According to information on the group’s website, there are now more than 130 Guardian Angels safety patrol chapters throughout the world, with constant additions being made.
Before a chapter is set up in Thunder Bay, local police want to ensure the organization “has high ethical and legal standards. It is important that any volunteer organization ensure that members are screened regarding their background,” the police news release said.
According to police, Hodgkinson told Levesque that any members of the Guardian Angels Thunder Bay chapter will have criminal background checks.
Following the meeting, Hodgkinson posted a long note on a Guardian Angel Facebook site that he manages and said he and the chief “spoke at length about the problems here in Thunder Bay and ... I was grateful that I was included in a conversation like that.”
Hodgkinson said he and Levesque “are both in agreement that there are certain things in the Guardian Angel curriculum that need to be restructured.”
“Ontario law is very clear on what can and cannot be done — not just with me but with any volunteer group,” he said.
“It was very refreshing to see the chief’s concern for your public safety is huge.”
Hodgkinson, who hails from Thunder Bay, is also known as the professional wrestler Vampiro.