Peel police chief expresses concern in wake of alleged hate crimes

The chief of Peel Regional Police says she wants to reassure members of the public that the force takes hate crimes seriously.

Jennifer Evans issued a YouTube message on Thursday in the wake of a number of troubling incidents in Peel Region targeted at Muslims.

This week, Peel police confirmed they were investigating a death threat against an Imam who had worked with the school board to accommodate Muslim students who needed to pray. 

"I want to assure you that when we receive reports that raises concerns for the community, we act immediately," Evans said.

"First a report is taken and the investigative process commences." 

Evans said officers are working with community advisory committees on the issue.

"Everyone should know hate-motivated incidents violate our feelings of safety and security and should not be tolerated," she said.

These incidents include:

- online threats against an imam.

- a video offering a $1,000 reward for recordings of Muslim students praying.

- pages of a Qur'an ripped up by a protester at a school board meeting.

In a news release, the police noted there is "growing concern" about the hate-motivated incidents in Peel Region.

"It is critically important to strengthen relationships and awareness between religions, and communities, ensuring equality, acceptance and mutual respect," the news release reads.

"Our diversity relations bureau has been tracking trends and patterns and in conjunction with community partners such as our community advisory committees, working to educate the public and raise awareness about incidents of hate-motivated crimes."

The police said hate crime investigations are "highly complex." After an investigation, the Crown is provided with full disclosure to determine if the incidents meet the criteria contained in the Criminal Code.

Under the law, a hate/bias crime is defined as a criminal act committed against a person or property, which is motivated solely or in part, by the offender's hate/bias or prejudice based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, or sexual orientation.

Police urge anyone who feels he or she has been the victim of a hate crime to contact its hate crime outline at (905) 456-5905.