Campbell River RCMP are noticing a trend of young people carrying bear spray for the wrong reasons.
“Some of the excuses that officers are hearing, is that the youth are carrying the spray to protect themselves from people because the community is dangerous,” said Const. Maury Tyre. “However, the use of the spray has a tendency to make the community more, not less dangerous. In the hands of the youth it ends up being used more often than not as an offensive weapon rather than an animal deterrent.”
The RCMP media liaison pointed to a recent event where bear spray was used by a man as payback for a lost fight.
It was only the unwillingness of the victim to take part in the investigation that prevented the assailant from being charged with Assault with a Weapon.
“Police are also finding bear spray and knives in backpacks when we’re breaking up groups of teens that are 14- or 15-years-old who are drinking or smoking marijuana in public places like school fields late at night,” Tyre said. “Their excuses are that it’s dangerous out, but the problem is, it’s 3 a.m., and you’re drunk and high and you have concealed weapons on you. That’s dangerous.”
It’s not only the responsibility of youth to be careful, Tyre added.
Guardians who have purchased bear spray or other weapons which are used in the commission of an offence could find themselves found criminally negligent or liable in civil court.
“If your youth are telling you it’s extremely dangerous out there, it’s probably time to start asking where they are hanging out and who they are hanging out with,” Tyre suggested. “Most violent crimes in the community are conducted by people who are known well to each other, not by complete strangers. So if the people you are hanging out with carry weapons, that just increases the likelihood that a weapon could be used against you.”
Anyone wishing to report criminal activity in the community can contact the Campbell River RCMP at 250-286-6221, or in an emergency call 911.