During May and June, Vancouver police conducted a probe to find out who was responsible for 28 offences – including six robberies, 21 assaults and one sexual assault – against wheelchair-dependent people in the city since January 2014.
An undercover police operation meant to catch criminals who prey on those most vulnerable instead turned up an outpouring of kindness in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Thirty-year VPD veteran Staff Sgt.
The Downtown Eastside is one of Canada’s poorest neighbourhoods where many residents struggle with homelessness, addiction, and mental illness.
With this in mind, Horsely disguised himself as a paralyzed man with a brain injury in a motorized wheelchair, and went undercover for five days.
“I was ready to be victimized”, Horsley admitted at a news conference. Mark Horsley says he and his colleagues discovered that the much-maligned community was filled with honest, caring people.
Video footage shows numerous people assisting Horsely in a variety of ways: helping him to count his money, praying for him, or zipping up a money pouch that was open on the side of his wheelchair.
“The community accepted me very quickly as being one of theirs”, Horsely said in a press release.
Addressing reporters at a post-operation briefing, Horsley said: “My boss tied a pork chop around my neck and threw me into a shark tank”.
Insp. Howard Chow said that while the project didn’t lead to any arrests, it highlighted “the caring and the compassion and the overwhelmingly strong sense of community that exists in the Downtown Eastside”.
Despite telling people he could not count and allowing them to handle his money, Mr Horsley ended up with just over $24 in extra cash after five deployments. “Not one person took advantage of my vulnerability….” He warned whoever was behind the attacks on vulnerable people in the area that police are watching and the locals are also watching.