Vandals mistakenly mar fire boat house after assuming it to be that of the Sheriff’s Office
VANCOUVER — Earlier this month, vandals tagged the city of Vancouver Fire Department’s boat house, which houses a river response vessel along the Columbia River. The message, however, was not intended for firefighters.
Derogatory and vulgar language scrolled across the wall is clearly understood to be directed at law enforcement, and reflects a minority, anti-cop sentiment throughout Clark County, according to Sgt. Alex Schoening of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).
“I understand the emotions and the need to peacefully protest, and obviously there’s been a lot of animosity directed towards law enforcement,” Schoening said. “In many of those cases collateral damage or victims of the criminal acts, or in this case the criminal vandalism acts that, they’re not law enforcement officers. In this case, they tagged the fire boathouse and in a pretty egregious fashion.”
The fire department’s boat house is stationed in Marina Park under the management of the Vigor Industrial LLC, which holds military contracts. It is not an open area, and is secured with fencing and the boat house is locked. No damage beyond the tagging was reportedly found, but fire department officials said they believe it to be more than a typical crime of opportunity.
“I’m not aware of us having any issues down there, in regards to our storage pod or the boathouse. Frankly, it’s a very secure facility,” said Deputy Fire Chief Tom O’Connor. “You cannot see the boat until you actually enter the boathouse. I mean, there’s some signage there, but you can’t see the fire boat at all from the parking lot or the dock or even from the water when the doors down.”
The mistaken identity of the facility is a first for the department, and they have had no prior incidents of vandalism, O’Connor said.
The same is not true in the case of CCSO. In recent months, as peaceful protests have competed with rioting, more cases of harassment of deputies have occurred.
Schoening explained that in some cases, deputies who drive marked patrol cars home have had ACAB, a popularized acronym for ‘All Cops Are Bastards,’ painted in front of their homes. In other cases, cars slowly drive by at night while loudly playing the song ‘F— the Police’ as they pass deputy residences, he said.
“I think one of the things that is going on with the violent protests and the acts of violence directed towards police, is the attempt to dehumanize law enforcement, that we somehow are inhuman,” Schoening said. “I can’t think of any police officer that I know, and I know a lot of them, that are not affected emotionally and morale wise by what they see going on, and how they’re being characterized.”
He went on to explain that many CCSO deputies also live within the county as well, and the negative remarks and actions have a personal connection. Overall, the majority of community comments and feedback that CCSO has been receiving is positive and encouraging, as well as constructive, Schoening said.
“I am very, very proud as a deputy for many years and a sergeant supervisor to work with very professional, very caring, non-racist individuals who come to work everyday and work their hardest,” he said. “When this happened, we reached out to the fire guys saying, ‘Hey, can we help clean this up?’ You feel for your brothers.”