Google Maps has become an everyday tool for researching events and food to navigating through traffic jams, but for one Facebook user who claims to live in Vernon, it has also become a tool to highlight local crimes and drug spots.
But Vernon North Okanagan RCMP said disclosing this information in this fashion is not ideal, nor is the information always credible.
“Typically, police do not release crime maps to protect the privacy of our victims,” media relations officer Cpl. Tania Finn said, noting this applies to both individuals or businesses affected.
The Facebook user — writing under the pseudonym Hugo Weaving, the actor famous for his role of V in the 2005 film V for Vendetta — published the map on Feb. 1 and has since shared it across Vernon-based community groups on social media.
The introduction to the map reads: “things we need to fix and a few that deserve recognition.”
Incidents that need to be “fixed” flagged on the V for Verndetta map include “Hobo Park Fountain,” “Attempted House Break-in” and “Purse Snatcher.” Of those to be recognized, are stories of 97-year-old Helen Sidney, who has been cleaning Bella Vista Road single-handedly for the past 30 years; RCMP staff Sgt. Major Robert Daly’s daring rescue of a man whose vehicle was found upside down and mostly submerged in the creek along Highway 97; and a shout out to the Vernon Community Safety Office.
The points on the map include short written commentaries, often accompanied by a news article or press release, however many are unfounded or only based on comments and accusations pulled from Facebook community groups such as Vernon Rant and Rave.
“In order to keep the public advised of incidents in our communities, we provide accurate and timely information through the use of our media releases,” Cpl. Finn said.
When collecting data, the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP uses the expertise of its crime analyst. The analyst reviews information from incidents reported to police by the public, Cpl. Finn said.
“This information is presented to our senior management team who develop strategies to address emerging issues and determine the most effective deployment of our police resources,” Cpl. Finn said.
It’s unknown if the creator’s motives are vigilantism, but on Facebook, Hugo Weaving’s employment is “Batman” and the introduction reads, “Just a local human trying to shed a little light on the dark places in Vernon.”
The profile, which appears to have been created at the end of January, features a dominant photograph of Guy Fawkes — the mastermind vigilante behind the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
Cpl. Finn said the RCMP discourage any type of vigilantism.
“If a member of the public witnesses a crime, they should report it to police who will take the necessary action.”