'We want to make reporting accessible': Vancouver man has VPD hate crime forms translated into 8 languages
VANCOUVER -- After struggling to report a hate crime against him, Steven Ngo has taken matters into his own hands.
Last week, Ngo spoke out about the difficulty he experienced trying to contact the Vancouver Police Department after a driver shouted a racial slur and threw garbage at him at an intersection. He told CTV News he was put on hold for more than 30 minutes while trying to report the incident by phone, and that when he searched online for a form to fill out, they were only available in traditional and simplified Chinese.
But Ngo said the response he's received since sharing his story has been "remarkable." He has since taken it upon himself to launch a crowd-source initiative to translate the Vancouver Police Department's hate crime forms into eight Asian languages.
“At the end of the day we want to make reporting accessible,” Ngo said. "As a community we decided, why don’t we just create the forms?”
Within 12 hours, four of the forms were already completed and the four others are assigned and pending. Ngo wants to make the online reporting forms available in English, Vietnamese, Tagolog, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, Farsi, Hindi, Thai, and Indonesian.
On Friday, Const. Tania Visintin with the VPD said the forms on their website were created in response to the spike in hate crimes against East Asian people during the pandemic.
“They were crimes against those of East Asian decent,” she said. "We knew that things were underreported and we believe by creating these forms in their language, either simplified or traditional, it would give them a sense of more comfort, in the sense that it would be easier for them to get their message across.”
But Ngo said East Asian captures more than just Chinese people.
“I think just to clarify, East Asians does not mean Chinese. It captures those who are Korean, Japanese,” he explained. "It’s against all Asians not just Chinese”
He added that he is part Vietnamese and part Chinese, so it doesn’t make sense that his mother could fill out a form but his father couldn’t. And since his reading of the Chinese language is limited, what he really needed was an English form.
“It sounds like they’re treating Asians as a separate part of the community. We’re all Vancouverites,” said Ngo.
Ngo said he understands the police force is busy so took it upon himself and a group of volunteers to make it easy. He explained the forms are being translated by lawyers. He added he understands they’ll probably need to be reviewed, but the English one would not be hard to check over.
“Since I posted the CTV News article and the video, my inbox has been flooded with message from people who want to help,” he said.
In expressing gratitude to the community and calling the effort “inspiring” Ngo added, “when we have a common cause and a light of positivity, people can do amazing things.”
At the end of the day, Ngo wants acknowledgement from the chief of police that they would upload the forms to the website.
In an emailed statement to CTV News Monday, Const. Steve Addison reiterated the online forms were created “for a very specific segment of our population that was being targeted by hate crimes last year.” He added the best way to report a crime is to call either 911 or the Vancouver police's non-emergency line and speak with a dispatcher.
“Our workforce speaks more than 50 languages, and we can usually find someone to speak to a complainant in their preferred language if they aren’t able to communicate in English,” he said, explaining that way a police officer can be sent to investigate.
That said Addison added, “we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to help keep the community safe.” He said he’d be willing to send them to the department’s Diversity, Inclusion and Indigenous Relations Section for consideration.
The first four translated forms are available below.