Church security a focus as vandalism investigations continue
Officers from across our Service are working with Christian leaders to address security concerns around churches, following yesterday’s vandalism of eleven churches in Calgary and recent arsons in other parts of the county.
Our Crime Prevention Team and Community Resource Officers began reaching out to churches believed to be at greatest risk yesterday, offering property security assessments and information on the current risks. We have been working most closely with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary as the majority of churches targeted have been Catholic.
Our hope is to contact as many churches as possible in the weeks to come but, given the large number of churches in Calgary, these calls will be prioritized based on those at greatest risk.
Officers also started conducting proactive patrols around specific churches yesterday when the vandalism was first reported. These patrols will continue for the foreseeable future.
The increased focus on church security follows orange and red graffiti being placed on the exterior of eleven churches during the night of Wednesday, June 30, or in the early morning hours of Thursday, July 1, 2021. In one case, a window was smashed so paint could also be thrown inside. Handprints, the number “215” and other markings suggest the vandalism was in response to the graves recently found at former residential schools.
Officers spent hours documenting and collecting evidence from the scenes yesterday and a team of investigators are now going over the evidence and CCTV footage to identify the people responsible. The Hate Crimes and Extremism Unit also continues to support the investigation to ensure any evidence of a hate motivation is captured for court.
The churches involved were:
- Saint Bonaventure Catholic Church at 1600 Acadia Dr. S.E.
- Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church at 819 13 Ave. S.W.
- Saint Mary’s Cathedral at 219 18 Ave. S.W.
- Sacred Heart Church and Columbarium at 1307 14 St. S.W.
- Grace Presbyterian Church at 1009 15 Ave. S.W.
- Saint Luke’s Parish at 1566 Northmount Dr. N.W.
- Holy Trinity Church at 1525 45 St. S.E.
- Saint Anthony’s Catholic Parish at 5340 4 St. S.W.
- All Nations Full Gospel Church at 1403 8 Ave. S.E.
- Saint Joseph Catholic Church at 640 19 Ave. N.W.
- Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church at 704 6 St. N.E. (New to the list)
Anyone with information on any of these incidents is asked to call us at 403-266-1234. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by contacting Crime Stoppers through any of the following methods:
APP: “P3 Tips”
If you are struggling to process the emotions around any of the recent events, it is perfectly normal to need some help and support. Here are some agencies who can help:
- CPS Victim Assistance Support Team: 403-428-8398
- Distress Centre Calgary (24/7): 403-266-HELP (4357)
- Indian Residential School Crisis Line (24/7): 1-866-925-4419
- Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society (Crisis Line): 403-531-1976
- 211 Alberta: Dial 211