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A Cop Went Undercover In A Wheelchair And Was Shocked By How People Acted

"This community has soul."

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Vancouver Police Staff Sgt. Mark Horsley went undercover in a wheelchair to bust criminals who were taking advantage of the disabled in the city's Downtown Eastside.

Vancouver Police Department / Via mediareleases.vpd.ca

Over the past 18 months, there were 28 incidents in Vancouver where a person in a wheelchair was violently attacked, according to a police press release.

"More than half of the crimes occurred in the Downtown Eastside," police said.

The Downtown Eastside is known as an area with a high rate of homlessness and crime.

"In this project, I had an opportunity to experience Vancouver's Downtown Eastside from a different perspective: that of a 4-foot-7 vulnerable person in wheelchair," said Staff Sgt. Horsely in a video about the operation.

He expected to catch criminals. Instead, he was awed by the generosity and kindness of the community.

Vancouver Police Department / Via mediareleases.vpd.ca

"The caring and compassion expressed to me in my undercover role was inspiring," he said. "This community has soul. Victimizing the vulnerable is far beneath the people of the Downtown Eastside."

During his five days in the wheelchair, "Not one person took advantage of my vulnerability."

This man saw that Staff Sgt. Horsley had some money hanging out of a wallet. He reached down and zipped it up. "Be careful, you don't want to lose your money," the man said.

Vancouver Police Department / Via mediareleases.vpd.ca

"He told me about his troubles, about him caring for his mother," Staff Sgt. Horsley said.

The officer often exchanged food or other items with people. He told them he couldn't count, expecting to be cheated. "Not once did anybody shortchange me," he said.

"For the very rare and despicable person who's willing to victimize vulnerable people, you should know: the police are watching," he said. "But more importantly, the people of the Downtown Eastside are watching."

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Craig Silverman is Media Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.

Contact Craig Silverman at craig.silverman@buzzfeed.com.

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