EDITORIAL – There’s a way to put an end to destructive vigilantism

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

VIGILANTISM has no place in law enforcement, and needs to stop.

The story of a young man who has a significant developmental disability surely should serve as an example of what’s wrong with the entrapment activities of the group called Creep Catchers or variations thereof.

The story came out a couple of weeks ago of how the Coquitlam man was lured into showing up with alleged expectations of having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

It was a strategy frequently used by Creep Catchers — someone posing as the under-age girl first tells the suspect she’s of age, then says she’s 14. If the target still wants to go ahead, a meeting is arranged at which he is confronted, video-taped and outed.

Police may or may not follow up.

The problem with the latest example is that those who know the young man in question say it’s doubtful whether he understood what was going on. He’s developmentally delayed and has been described as 21 going on 13.

Yet the video of the confrontation was posted on social media. He was fired from his part-time job as a score keeper at an ice rink.

It isn’t the first reported questionable situation for Creep Catchers/ Creep Catcher/ Creep Busters/ Creep Hunters. In one case, they posted a photo of the wrong man. One of their targets in Surrey had cerebral palsy. In Red Deer, it was a man with a learning disability. And in Edmonton, a 27-year-old who identified as female committed suicide after the Edmonton chapter of Creep Catcher posted a video of her being confronted on her doorstep about allegedly pursuing a 14-year-old girl online.

The Coquitlam kid isn’t likely to be charged by RCMP but there are a couple of other cases in which charges have been laid, including one in Kamloops. The risks don’t justify the “rewards” and, clearly, the RCMP don’t like the amateur and aggressive tactics of Creep Catchers and its cousin groups but a large segment of the public applauds their vigilante escapades, which have accurately been characterized as “justice for entertainment.”

Police need to go beyond simply discouraging it, and issue a declaration that they will not pursue charges based on any of Creep Catchers’ actions unless solid evidence is discreetly presented without the dramatic video-taped confrontations.

That would put a damper on this vigilantism, which would wither and die without the public attention, and restore the pursuit of child molesters to those who do it best — the police and the courts.

About Mel Rothenburger (5787 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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