This fall, the Vancouver Police Foundation is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. To celebrate this milestone, the Foundation will be sharing 40 remarkable stories, one story each day for 40 days. The stories will highlight some of the grants or special projects the Foundation has supported over the past 40 years.
The Foundation was established in 1976 by a group of local business and community leaders: Arthur Phillips, Joseph Cohen, Senator Edward Lawson, Ronald Cliff, Graham Dawson, John Davidson, and The Reverend Kenneth Wotherspoon. The Vancouver Police Foundation is the second oldest, after the New York Police Department Foundation, and one of the most established police foundations in the world. What started as a small grass-roots initiative, has now grown to a support base of over 2,000 members.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the many Foundation supporters who over the past 40 years have contributed to the success of our community outreach and crime prevention programs and allowed the VPD to acquire state-of-the-art tools that might otherwise be outside the reach of our budget,“ says VPD Chief Constable Adam Palmer. “The Foundation, along with the hundreds of volunteers who assist us in making our neighbourhoods safer, continues to make us a leader in policing.”
“As we look back over the past 40 years, we are proud of our longevity and continued ability to help fund initiatives that foster the vital link between the police and the communities they serve,“ says Martina Meckova, Executive Director of the Vancouver Police Foundation. “We hope that through these stories we can share a small sample of the incredible commitment and compassion that we see every day working alongside the men and women of the VPD.”
40 Stories over 40 Days
Day 1: Project MESH
Project MESH (Make Everyone Safe & Happy), started in 2013 with a specific focus on Southeast Vancouver. It was created by VPD Constables Hardeep Sahota and Tajinder Parmar to help diminish the growing number of youth-related violent crimes in Southeast Vancouver and to deter young persons from being negatively influenced by older crime-prone peers. Through a VPD hosted sports day, its goal is to create bonds with the youth through fun and active sports. Most of these children come from families who cannot afford their children to be in summer camps over the summer; therefore hosting a sports day for them is truly a meaningful and rewarding experience.
Project MESH collaborates with Southeast Vancouver community centers, area youth workers and elementary schools to create specialized police-youth events centered on sports and socialization activities. These events create and instill confidence in elementary school-aged kids to stand-up to bullying and street-gang influence.
With the help of the Foundation, local businesses, and volunteers, the VPD members can offer the program for free to the local kids and families. What started as a grass-roots initiative with 65 participants has now grown into an annual event with more than 200 kids. Project MESH is scheduled to run again in June 2017.
Day 2: Project S.A.V.E.
Back in the late 1970s, the VPD needed help distributing safety information out to the public. Not like today, the information wasn’t as easily assessable from a website or social media. The Foundation was able to fund portable display modules and materials that officers could use to educate the community. In this case, Project SAVE promoted crime prevention and offered tips to combat shoplifting and vandalism.
Project SAVE was an association comprised of retail, corporate and private interest groups with the objective to promote crime prevention. The VPD aided the association with their awareness campaign by educating the community with prevention tools. Since our Foundation’s inception, we have been committed to support the VPD in its efforts to reduce crime and make our city safer.
Day 3: Lunch with the Chief
Building on prior VPD initiatives and collaborating with the Carnegie Centre Society, “Lunch with the Chief” engages community members to gather and have a dialogue together with the VPD over a shared meal, which has been provided by the Foundation. There are four luncheons per year, attended by approximately 100 Downtown Eastside residents. The focus is not solely around the marginalized populations as it has been in the past, rather it allows for Downtown Eastside citizens to meet, socialize and hear stories and information from frontline members who police their community.
We now know based on the successes of the previous luncheons, that this unique experience has significantly impacted the relationships between police and community members residing in and around the Downtown Eastside, while simultaneously addressing and increasing the safety and security of residents. Improved relations are key to addressing the overall safety of these communities.
Day 4: Target Hardening Kits
Strengthen your home or business’ security is one way to reduce your chances of a break-in. The police use the term “target hardening” to describe this action. In 2014, the Foundation granted funds for the creation of a series of “Target Hardening Kits”. A total of seven kits were made and are currently used to educate the public with information and tools on how to keep your home or business secure. Each kit contains items such as: window/door alarm locks, wireless alarm monitors, dead bolt door locks, assorted security signage, and various VPD safety tips brochures.
Another feature of the grant was the residential door hanger checklist. This proactive approach was to educate residents on security measures available to them and served as a reminder to secure doors and windows prior to leaving their home.
Day 5: Student Challenge
For the first time in 1997, youth in Vancouver got the chance to participate in a youth police academy known as the VPD Student Challenge Program. Over the period of 8 days during spring break, 48 grade 11 and 12 students get to experience this unique youth police academy. Hundreds of applications are received each year, and to date 576 students have participated in this challenge.
Students in the program will participate in training from a variety of topics such as: legal studies, firearms training, investigation and patrol, specialty squads, and physical training. The program also includes a four day camp trip at Timberline Ranch. A graduation ceremony concludes the Student Challenge where the students are recognized for their efforts and hard work. Past participants have gone onto pursue careers and volunteering roles with various law enforcement agencies and over a dozen have joined the VPD.
Day 6: Police Judo Mats
The Vancouver Police Judo Club was formed in 1993 by Retired Inspector Tim Laidler of the Vancouver Police Department. The VPD Judo Club is dedicated to helping all of its members, both civilian and sworn, develop strong judo skills to prepare for the physical demands of policing. Students, volunteers, police applicants, and recruits are also welcome in the VPD Judo Club. There are over 100 members of the VPD Judo Club. In 2003, a Kids Judo program was formed, providing children of VPD employees the opportunity to practice Judo.
The VPD Judo Club is also involved in various community events including assisting in police judo demonstrations for high school students at the Japanese Consulate in Burnaby. In 2005, funding was provided by the Vancouver Police Foundation towards 30 brand new Judo mats to accommodate the rapidly growing club.
Day 7: Mobile Command Centre
In 2013, we unveiled the new Vancouver Police Mobile Command Centre. The purchase of this state-of-the-art command centre was made possible through a $500,000 donation from the Vancouver Police Foundation. The Mobile Command Centre assists the VPD in numerous ways including coordinating effective deployment, tactical support, search operations, and communication needs. The Mobile Command Centre can also be used during emergencies that require a multi-agency response, where it can coordinate with other police agencies. This flagship vehicle will also augment the City’s emergency management, fire and medical services response capabilities.
Day 8: Crime Stoppers
In 1984, the Vancouver Police Foundation provided $10,000 in seed money to start a new program in Canada called “Crime Stoppers”. This anonymous crime tip organization was started in 1976 by a Canadian born Albuquerque police detective, Greg MacAleese.
The Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers is comprised of the following programs: schools, gangs, cash for guns, domestic violence, human trafficking, new Canadians, metal theft, and power theft. The school program is unique because it works at preventing crime, rather than just taking tips about crime. This school program includes a crime awareness presentation targeted at students in grade eight.
Day 9: Mobile Safety Apps
Two mobile safety apps were launched in 2013 by the Vancouver Police, thanks to a great idea by Sergeant Kevin Bernardin. Sergeant Benardin was a recipient of the Chief Constable’s Commendation Award in 2016 for his continuous work and dedication to the community. The first app, Speed Watch, was created specifically to support the 10 Vancouver Police Community Policing Centres throughout the city. Speed Watch is a volunteer traffic safety program that uses volunteers to collect speed related data and creates a visible awareness of vehicles speeds in sensitive areas like school, parks and locations where there have been specific public complaints. Volunteers can also note visible traffic infractions such as: no seatbelts, no visible valid insurance, and driver using an electronic device. This program helps validate specific complaint, provides a visible presence, and overall working to making the community safer.
The second app, Log It, serves all residents of the city and supported the springtime property crime campaign “Log It or Lose It”. This app allowed users to create a database of their personal property, including important notes like serial numbers. In the case of theft, the victim is then able to quickly produce a detailed list for the police.
Day 10: NewKids Vancouver: Youth Police Academy
Last fall, the VPD’s Diversity & Aboriginal Policing Section initiated a special program, NewKids Vancouver, that focused on supporting on new immigrant and refugee youth. The program runs twice a year for 8 weeks, and supports close to 20 youth aged 15-19 from Vancouver high schools. The main focus of NewKids is education and awareness around law enforcement, since many participants come from countries where experiences with authority figures have mostly been negative. Peer and police mentorship in this program allow youth to form positive relationships, instill civic pride, self-empowerment, and a foundation for positive decision making. This is done through fun and engaging experiences that promote social justice, healthy lifestyles, integration and adaptation, issues of identity, and bullying and violence prevention.
Since the start of NewKids last fall, the participants have opened up with each other and become have more comfortable with police members. Many have expressed their interest in pursuing a career in policing and law enforcement down the road. Feedback from the youth participants have shown that the experiences from this program were not only educational, but also life-changing.
Day 11: PAL’s Pee Wee Soccer Camp
For 27 years, the Vancouver Police Soccer and Service Club (VPSSC) hosts an annual complimentary 4-day soccer school program for children aged 5-9 from various inner-city elementary schools in Vancouver. Each year, approximately 300 children have the chance to participate in this fun soccer tournament, that includes a World Cup-style mini competition. The VPSSC is made up of Vancouver Police officers who volunteer their time to ensure continual success of this program. The Strathcona Pee Wee Soccer Camp encourages leadership and teamwork, while fostering positive relationships between children at risk and the VPD through soccer. Each year, approximately 260 children have the chance to participate in this fun tournament.
During the four-day camp, numerous VPD units including the VPD Motorcycle Drill Team, the Mounted Squad, and the Dog Squad demonstrate for the children. School Liaison officers also put on personal safety presentations for the participants. One of the greatest rewards of the tournament is the long-lasting and positive relationships that are established between the Vancouver Police Members and Vancouver’s youth and inner city children.
Day 12: ID4ME
The ID4ME program was initiated by Constable Linda Malcolm of the Vancouver Police Department to help address the issue of the lack of acceptable identification (ID) for vulnerable residents that live in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) face. Almost half of the residents in the DTES did not have the minimum ID required to access services such as health care, voting privileges, banking, and even some housing opportunities. Not having proper ID have created barriers and even a negative feeling of self-worth for these residents.
Since the launch of ID4ME in 2015, over 343 pieces of ID consisting of health care cards, birth certificates, BCID, BC Services card, status cards, and out of province ID have been obtained. One resident was finally able to claim his lottery winnings after receiving 3 pieces of ID from this initiative. ID4ME was also able to assist a young woman from Mexico obtain her birth certificate by involving the Mexican Consulate. Removing barriers to obtaining ID allows individuals to access and move forward in many aspects of their life.
Day 13: 9-11 Relief Fund
The world will never forget that morning of September 11, 2001. The Vancouver Police Department immediately came together to support their American brothers and sisters during the tragedy, by raising money for the NYPD Relief Fund. Over $200,000 was raised and the Foundation is proud to have helped facilitate this endeavor. This amount was then personally delivered by the VPD officers. The Vancouver Police Foundation has always been committed to supporting the VPD in their endeavors that impact our local community and in this case, the policing community as well.
Day 14: Victim Service’s Teddy Bears
In 1990 the Victim Services Unit of the Vancouver Police developed a program to further reduce children’s trauma in the event of a traumatic incident. Teddy bears were provided to police officers that were in specialized units at that time. The teddy bears were to be given to children involved in or exposed to these traumatic incidents. It was noted that these teddy bears had reduced the children’s trauma and provided them with something personal and tangible that showed the VPD was there to support and cared for them.
The Victim Services Unit provides crime victims, witness, and their family members with support. This support happens in a timely matter to lessen the impact of crime or trauma. A variety of support today is available including: attending to a crime scene to provide crisis intervention and emotional support, referrals to counselling services, information on our justice system, and our VPD Trauma Dog, Lucca.
Day 15: Project 529
Over 2000 bicycles are stolen every year in Vancouver; with 9 stolen every day during the summer months. In 2015, we provided the VPD with the funding to join forces with Project 529 to combat this issue. Project 529 is a Portland-based software company and the creators of the 529 Garage App. This app is a comprehensive registration and recovery service. The 529 Garage App is completely free, and makes it easy for users to upload all the important details of their bicycle.
If the bicycle is stolen, you can immediately let the VPD, other cyclists, and even your social networks know about the theft through the app. If spotted, others using the application can submit details and photos of the sighting. Numerous registration events were held to encourage residents to register their bikes with Project 529.
The VPD recovers thousands of bikes every year, but majority have little or no identification. This initiative will hopefully deter bike theft and make it easier for residents to be reunited with their bicycles.
Day 16: The Vancouver Police Museum
A special project was proposed to recognize the Vancouver Police Department’s 100th anniversary in 1986. This idea was a police museum where the departments’ members and the public could learn about the proud history of the Vancouver Police. In 1983, a group of 34 volunteers from within the Vancouver Police Department and retired members formed the Vancouver Police Historical Society to make this project a reality.
The location that was chosen for the police museum was the Old Coroner’s Court Building in the Downtown Eastside. This building once housed the city’s Analyst Lab and Coroner Services, including the morgue. Today, the museum finds its’ home on the top floor of this historic designated heritage building. One of the main goals of the museum was to educate the public and department members about the history of the VPD. This is still a focus of the museum today, as many educational programs and summer camps are offered to school-aged children. The Vancouver Police Museum contains 3 permanent exhibitions: Main Gallery, where you can learn about the beginnings of the VPD; Sins Gallery, where you can take a peek at confiscated weapons, and the True Crime Gallery that is located in the former City Morgue. The museum also holds a number of events, including the popular Movies In The Morgue film screening series.
Day 17: PAL Elementary Jersey Program
The Vancouver Police Athletic League (PAL) is a youth crime prevention initiative that uses athletic, recreational and educational programs, to foster positive relationships between police officers and youth. These programs include after-school sport activities that are coordinated, coached, and taught by police officers who serve as positive role models. Some objectives of PAL include: providing a safe and supervised environment for kids to play sports, promote integrity, fairness, and the development of a positive self-image, and promote the learning of successful interpersonal and other skills that help prevent youth crime.
In 2015, sets of 25 sport jerseys were provided to 20 elementary schools in Vancouver. This is in addition to elementary schools that the PAL has been able to provide jerseys for since 2013. To date, PAL has provided 1225 jerseys to 45 Vancouver elementary schools. This represents nearly half of all elementary schools in Vancouver. There has been a dramatic rise in PAL participation, which continually builds bridges within the community and fosters new positive relationships.
Day 18: The Vancouver Pipe Band, Centennial Celebration
The Vancouver Police Pipe Band was formed in 1914 by then Chief Malcolm McLennan to play for the opening of the new police headquarters. They are the oldest non-military pipe band in BC and ranks amongst the most senior police pipe bands in the world. 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the Vancouver Police Pipe Band. Funds raised from the Vancouver Police Foundation’s 2014 Night Patrol Gala supported the pipe band’s centennial events and activities, as well as the new Vancouver Police Cadet Program. The Pipe Band performed with the legendary Sarah McLachlan that evening, and inducted her into the band as an honorary member.
The mayor and city council of Vancouver recognized the band’s centenary and contributions to the city with the presentation of the “Freedom of City Award” in 2014. The band has also travelled to London, England to play for the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace. This event made history, as they were the first non-military band to play for this royal ceremony. The band was also invited to perform at Windsor Castle with His Royal Highness Prince William in attendance. Locally, the band performs at the Pride Parade, Vaisakhi Parade, Grey Cup week, Christmas Parade, and other civic events.
Day 19: Lucca
The Vancouver Police Victim Services Unit had a new furry addition to their unit in early 2016. Lucca, a 3 year old Trauma Dog, joined the team. Lucca is trained by the Pacific Assistant Dog Society (PADS) in Burnaby. Lucca is trained to provide a calming presence, a healthy distraction in moments of distress, encourage and promote healthy communication, diffuse extreme and troubling emotions, and a cathartic touch. In his role, Lucca works with individuals to help them work through traumatic incidents and crisis situations. It has been proven that through a dog’s presence, the level of stress hormones in people decrease. Their bodies also start to produce endorphins and levels of anxiety are reduced.
Lucca may be deployed with the Victim Services Unit to a crime scene, hospital, police facility, help calm a victim or witness when needing to provide a statement, or just to talk about what has happened. The presence of Lucca on scene helps diffuse intense emotions and provide comfort and calmness to both adults and children. In under a year, there has been a tremendous amount of positive feedback for Lucca and the Victim Services team.
Day 20: Liquid Blood Stain Technology
The Foundation has been there for the VPD when they need assistance in acquiring cutting edge technology that helps keep our city safe. In 1979, the Foundation supported the VPD in receiving bloodstain identification training and new equipment to collect evidence. This technology has now become standard in many investigations, and it wasn’t so long ago that this was considered ‘new’.
Day 21: Pulling Together
Since 2001, hundreds of aboriginal youth from BC have had the chance to participate in this unique canoe journey. Paddling in traditional canoes, the annual event sees BC law enforcement personnel and aboriginal youth work together, visit aboriginal communities, and celebrate their culture. For many participants, it was their first opportunity to visit coastal communities and take part in ceremonies and protocols. The journey breaks down barriers between youth and police, fosters positive relationships among participants, and build a strong sense of belonging and community.
The Vancouver Police Foundation is proud to work with Pulling Together for numerous years. In 2004, the Vancouver Police Department hosted an “end of journey” barbeque to culminate the unique experience for Pulling Together participants. In 2012, federal funding was cut for programs which supported aboriginal youth in East Vancouver. Many community organizations, including the foundation, came together to provide the essential funds to ensure that aboriginal youth from our community would be able to participate in this journey. Youth who have participated in Pulling Together are empowered, connected, and more confident. It has inspired many to pursue post-secondary education, volunteer and work for community organizations, and pursue careers in policing.
Day 22: Cops for Cancer
Each fall, hundreds of law enforcement and emergency services members from across British Columbia cycle up to two weeks across parts of our province. This annual event is the Cops for Cancer tour which started back in 1997; it has raised millions of dollars for pediatric cancer and support programs province wide. The tours take place in four regions across BC: the North, Vancouver Island, Fraser valley, and Greater Vancouver. The Greater Vancouver tour, Tour de Coast, raised $515,698 this fall.
Numerous fundraising events are held prior to the tour to help generate excitement and raise awareness. Past events have included: a former Vancouver Police Department (VPD) Chief Constable raising $25,000 for his legs to be waxed, a VPD constable raising $3000 and climbing the grouse grind 11 times in one day, and numerous Jail and Bail events featuring local personalities. Donations made through Cops for Cancer to the Canadian Cancer Society fund life-saving research and caring programs like Camp Goodtime to support families affected.
Day 23: Streetfront
Streetfront is a Vancouver School Board alternative education program with a strong physical aspect in the curriculum. The program is run out of Britannia Secondary School in East Vancouver and caters to students between the ages of 14-16. Many of the students in this program struggle in the traditional classroom setting for many reasons: family issues, mental health challenges, learning disabilities, and involvement in the criminal justice system. The funding for this important program has always come from private or corporate donations as it falls outside of the Vancouver School Board funding capabilities.
VPD members and the Youth Services Section have been supporting a marathon running program within Streetfront. Constable Brandon Steele has been training and running with Streetfront students for 5 years, and in that time approximately 170 full and half marathons in Vancouver and Seattle have been completed by these students. The Streetfront marathon program teaches the importance of positive lifestyle choices, mental and physical fitness, leadership, community spirit, and socially responsible behavior. It also gives the students the chance for direct experience in achieving milestones through hard work, mental and physical fitness. Building relationships through unique shared experience is at the heart of this program. Former students continue to return year after year for training, and race participation providing mentorship as well as program legacy. These returning students unequivocally demonstrate the lasting effects of this program providing evidence of community engagement, commitment to physical and mental determination, and pro-social behavior.
Day 24: The Compact Inflatable Boat
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) Marine Unit is continuously striving to be leaders in marine policing by improving its capabilities and practices, to provide the highest level of service to the citizens of Vancouver. Whether apprehending a suspect, rescuing someone in distress, or collecting evidence, gaining safe access to all on water areas within the city is essential to the successful deployment of the VPD Marine Unit. The Marine Unit had two patrol vessels to perform its duties, but needed to find ways to gain access to difficult parts of the waterfront and isolated bodies of water within the city. In past cases, Marine Unit members have had to swim out to suspects in the water, putting themselves at risk.
Last year, the Marine Unit received funding for an inflatable boat that would put the unit in a better position to fulfill its obligations for police service and public education in the water ways surrounding Vancouver. This inflatable boat has enhanced the level of safety by lessening the need for members to enter the water, prevent costly damage to other vessels during shallow water operations, and provide access to all waterways within the city in a timely manner as it can be transported quickly by land. The vessel also serves as an educational tool in the numerous community events the Marine Unit engages in each year.
Day 25: Stranger Danger Public Service Announcement
The Vancouver Police Department’s School Liaison Unit program combines education, investigation, law enforcement, counseling, crime prevention and community relations to meet the diverse needs of residents in the school community. The program’s users include students, staff, parents, the community, the VPD and School Liaison Officers. A primary role of the School Liaison Unit is education and prevention through informative presentations. These presentations frequently use multimedia as an educational tool. The School Liaison Unit recognizes the importance of presenting videos that children can relate to.
In 2014 the Youth Services Section teamed up with Templeton Secondary School’s Drama department to produce two new educational films. This unique film program brings back Templeton alumnus working in the film industry to mentor and guide student projects. Templeton Secondary is located in Hastings-Sunrise; a high percentage of their students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and benefit significantly from this program. One video, Stranger Danger was completed in 2015 and is currently used as an educational safety tool for elementary aged children. This project not only produced updated educational videos, but created more opportunities for disadvantaged youth as well.
Day 26: Know Your Source – Fentanyl Awareness Campaign
Know Your Source is a public awareness campaign designed to reduce the number of deaths attributed to fentanyl, a synthetic narcotic that is 50-100 times more toxic than other narcotics. Over the past four years there has been a progressive, province-wide increase in the number of illicit drug overdose deaths in which fentanyl was detected, either alone or in combination with other drugs. As fentanyl can be masked in virtually any product, users are at risk of dying, even on their first use. The majority of people dying from this drug are not injection drug users; instead, they are recreational drugs users who snort or smoke drugs, and are often unaware they are taking fentanyl. They are young (18 to 40 years old), well-educated and employed. Vancouver has one of the highest rates of fentanyl-detected deaths in the province.
With the assistance of the Foundation, the Vancouver Police Department Public Affairs Unit purchased bus shelter ads to increase awareness and provide education about the dangers of fentanyl. The ads have been currently running since July 2015, in carefully selected bus shelter locations throughout the city. The ads include a link to the dedicated website where people can learn more about the dangers of fentanyl, how to recognize symptoms of an overdose, and where to get help for addiction.
Day 27: Multicultural Safety Brochures
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) is dedicated to being Canada’s leader in innovative policing, maintaining public safety, upholding the rule of law and preventing crime. They are continuously looking for ways to improve its capabilities and practices to provide citizens of Vancouver with the highest level of service. Back in 1986, a request for funding was made to produce crime prevention booklets in different languages to better reach the growing multicultural communities throughout the city. Today we not only have police officers of all cultures, but also support teams, community policing centres, a Diversity and Aboriginal Unit, and many more to ensure all citizens of Vancouver are supported.
Day 28: NASKARZ
NASKARZ is a dynamic award-winning program focused on high-risk inner city youth in Vancouver. Developed by Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre in 2008, in partnership with Vancouver Police Department (VPD), Vancouver Community College, and ICBC, the program has been recognized for its exceptional potential to not only reduce youth crime, but to propel these same young people toward new opportunities in education, training, employment and recreation. NASKARZ has been credited by ICBC as one of the initiatives that led to 71% multi-year drop in car theft in Vancouver.
A proposal by Diversity and Aboriginal Policing Section of the VPD in 2007, noted that the Vancouver school system was a melting pot of multiculturalism and many younger youth from diverse populations had been victims of bullying, aggressive verbal attacks and violence by fellow youth. The NASKARZ program was implemented to help youth find alternative means in handling situations by instilling positive assets in their lives. It will also assist the youth in schools who are continuously victimized by other youth. The possibility of having both groups participate on a level within this program engaged participants to work together and create team work situations where they learn to respect each other rather than victimize them. The unique setting provides an opportunity that no other program currently offers. Ultimately when youth feel empowered, important and worthwhile, it provides greater positive opportunities for them and creates and overall safer community. In 2014, NASKARZ extended its reach to high risk youth in Metro Vancouver by including participants from Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, New Westminster and Surrey.
Day 29: Traffic Safety Vests
The Vancouver Police Department has always worked closely with the community, and especially schools. The School Safety Patrol, formerly known as the Community Road & Education Safety Team (CREST), works with Vancouver elementary schools, community organizations and groups to promote traffic safety for students and the public in the city. Back in 1994, the Foundation provided the seed money for a special school safety program. The printing of a Parent Parking Patrol Manual and the purchase of 279 safety vests were made possible from this seed money. At the time, over 200 parents from 32 Vancouver schools were participating in this program.
The Parent Parking Patrol (PPP) is a community based program which deals with daily traffic safety problems facing Vancouver students. This program centres around elementary schools, both public and independent and is adaptable for high schools. PPP has straightforward guidelines which allow concerned parents to address, access and reduce traffic safety problems around neighbourhood schools. Parents act to form a committee with their main objective being to reduce traffic safety problems around their school and keeping everyone safe.
Day 30: VPD Women’s Safety Fair
The very first Women’s Safety Fair was held in July 2012 by the Special Investigation Section of the Vancouver Police Department. The event attracted between 250 and 300 women who interacted with police officers and community members at information booths set up on site. Various units within the VPD such as the Sex Crimes Unit, Domestic Violence and Criminal Harassment Unit, Counter Exploitation Unit, Blockwatch, School Liaison Unit, Crimestoppers, Diversity and Aboriginal Policing Unit, and the Victim Services Unit were involved. Outside agencies including Family Services of Greater Vancouver, Battered Women’s Support Services, Women Against Violence Against Women, and the BC Women’s Hospital Sexual Assault Service were also part of the fair.
In addition to these information booths, the VPD Force Options Training Unit also delivered a two-hour program to women in the onsite gymnasium. This program focused on practical exercises that women of all different ages, sizes and backgrounds could employ to help improve their safety in the community. The feedback from all levels of the VPD, community partners and members of the community has been extremely positive and the Women’s Safety Fair is now an annual event.
Day 31: Forward Looking Infra-Red Camera
The Vancouver Police Department’s (VPD) Marine Unit is one of the only full-time police marine units in British Columbia. They are responsible for policing all waterways within the city of Vancouver. Safety and the education of boaters is one of the primary roles of the unit, combined with law enforcement when appropriate. The Marine Unit can and does deploy in all levels of visibility, and in nearly all weather conditions. This can pose a challenge to members as certain weather conditions can restrict the operability of two of the unit’s vessels. The issue of low light and interference backlight from the shore was complicating the operation of the vessels.
With funding from the Foundation, the Marine Unit was able to purchase a Forward Looking Infra-Red Camera system in 2009. This system contains premium multi sensor, thermal imaging & night vision cameras that provides high resolution images via infra-red, night vision, and day camera units. With this device, the Marine Unit can now improve their capabilities in all levels of visibility and weather conditions.
Day 32: Vulnerable Persons Registry
Back in 2014, members of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) executive met with representatives of the Foundation to discuss the possibility of creating a unique resource based program. This program is aimed at strengthening the communication gap between First Responders and those persons within the community that suffer from cognitive mental health disorders. The VPD sought to develop a voluntary Vulnerable Person registry where contact and emergency medical information could be stored and accessed by VPD members in times of crisis. Client information may include a recent picture, de-escalation techniques, medical intervention, and emergency contact information.
The VPD has formed a working partnership with MedicAlert Canada to implement this program. Each client will be provided with a unique MedicAlert ID bracelet with unique important medical information, and contact information for first responders to access 24/7. If the found person is non-verbal or unable to understand, the ID tag can provide a conduit for communication. In this joint program, the VPD will have access to the client’s photo and personal medical information in the event of an emergency. This is very important in cases such as missing persons, as survival rates decrease as time goes on. The first hour that a person is missing is of critical importance and the use of the MedicAlert system allows first responders the ability to act on previously gathered information rather than creating a case specific biography.
Day 33: Hockey Riot Posters
The Vancouver Police Foundation is always seeking to facilitate a closer relationship between the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and the community and to fund worthwhile police projects that would not otherwise be funded. Back in October of 2011, the Foundation was asked by the VPD for help with a special project. The VPD had plans to launch a poster campaign to help identify 100 unidentified rioters from the evening of June 15, 2011. We immediately got involved and funded the poster. This project was a tactic that the VPD had never tried before. This campaign was a perfect fit for the Foundation – it broke new ground and encouraged public participation in enforcement.
On November 16th, 2011 part 1 of the highly successful poster campaign was launched. It involved the distribution of 30,000 posters by 150 volunteers in 34 strategic locations across the Lower Mainland. In March of 2012, another 70,000 posters were handed out in less than 12 hours across 19 cities in 75 locations, by over 400 volunteers and police officers. During the campaign, members of the public sent over 370 tips. Investigators made strong leads from the 100 pictures featured on the poster; including leads on some of our “5 most wanted rioters”, and lead to hundreds of criminal charges against the rioters. This campaign showed that members of the community will come together in times of need, to keep Vancouver a safer place for everyone.
Day 34: 100th Anniversary for Women in Policing
2012 was a special year for the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) as it marked the 100th Anniversary of the first female officers joining the VPD. In 1912, the Vancouver Police Department was the first municipal police department in Canada, and third in the world, to hire women as sworn officers. The job description, the rights, and the uniform worn by female officers have evolved over time, as parity between men and women was established. To commemorate this important anniversary, the Vancouver Police Museum wanted to implement a new Oral History Collection program. The project focused on collecting the stories of past and present women who have worked as VPD officers. It is a tribute to the accomplishments of the VPD’s female trailblazers and an opportunity to share the century-long story of struggle, success, and social change.
The celebration of the 100th anniversary of Women in Policing is invaluable to the Museum’s ability to adequately represent and celebrate the history of women working in the VPD. In addition to the creation of public access points for the stories and histories, the museum’s ability to preserve the information for long-term use means that they can be studied and appreciated in the years, decades, and centuries to come.
Day 35: Total Respect for Ourselves and Others (TROO)
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has had a strong relationship with Children of the Street Society for over 20 years, specifically with the Counter Exploitation Unit, Gang Unit, Police & Community Response Unit and Youth Services Unit. Through that interaction with Children of the Street Society, the VPD identified a need to collaboratively address the emerging cases of teen sexting happening in our schools and in our community. VPD Youth Services Unit and Children of the Street Society created a program, the first of its kind in BC, and second in Canada for youth who have been involved in sexting incidences.
Through activity-based learning, the TROO (Total Respect of Ourselves and Others) program gave youth an opportunity to learn about the consequences and impact on victims, as well as deter them from re-offending. In partnership with Children of the Street Society, the Vancouver Police Departments’ Youth Services Unit ran full-day sessions, 4 times a year, for youth who have been “caught” sexting. Concurrently, the program will also educate parents and caregivers of youth participants through a half-day session about strategies they can use to reinforce safe digital relationships among teens and their peers. The overall goal of TROO was to teach youth about the social and legal consequences of sexting, the impact it can have on victims, and other issues that are related to sexting. Other topics covered included: peer to peer exploitation, unhealthy vs. healthy relationships, age of consent, and resources where they can seek help. The program received positive feedback from both youth and parent participants.
Day 36: The VPD Cadet Program
The Vancouver Police Department, along with the Vancouver Police Foundation and its community partners, are deeply committed to giving Vancouver’s youth every possible chance for a successful and happy life. Through mentorship, we can guide young people, especially those who live in low-income neighbourhoods, toward a positive future. In May 2015, 60 Vancouver inner-city youths completed the inaugural year of the Vancouver Police Cadet Program. The 24-week program includes educational workshops, physical training, and team and life skill building exercises. 61 participants with diverse socio-economic backgrounds are included in all levels of programming. Working with their peers and front line police officers, the participants learn leadership, self-discipline and a desire for personal excellence. By successfully completing the program, the youth will gain a strong sense of self-worth, which is one of the greatest gifts we can offer.
Similar Cadet programs have been very successful in several North America cities so we anticipate that the number of youth will increase sequentially in year two and three. Upon graduation, cadets will become mentors for the younger participants entering into the program. A key program objective is to build a pool of future policing applicants from diverse cultural backgrounds and underrepresented communities. But regardless, the skills that the cadets learn will be of great personal value for the rest of their lives.
Day 37: Canine Body Armour
In 1957 he very first municipal police canine unit in Canada was formed by the Vancouver Police Department, making it the oldest municipal police dog unit. The Canine Unit is comprised of 15 dog teams working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The dogs are trained in variety of disciplines such as tracking, criminal apprehension, evidence recovery, narcotics, firearms and explosives detection. The Unit routinely responds to over 10,000 calls for service per year in the city of Vancouver, and to Lower Mainland police agencies that require the services of a police dog and a police officer.
In 1999, the Foundation provided funding for 2 sets of dog body armour for the Canine Unit. Today, all dogs are also provided with custom fitted ballistic vests, as the safety and well-being of the dog is paramount. While on duty, the dog teams drive specially designed SUVs equipped with an air-conditioned kennel and heat alarm that will sound should the interior temperature rise above safe levels. The Canine Unit is highly mobile, with the primary purpose of attending scenes of crimes that are in progress or that have just occurred, for example: break and enters, robberies, and purse snatchings. The VPD Canine Unit is a member of the Canadian Police Canine Association (CPCA) and attends the annual national CPCA police dog trials. The police dog trials tests dog teams from across Canada in every discipline they are trained in, such as tracking, criminal apprehension, building search, compound search, evidence recovery, obedience, agility, and narcotics. Dog teams from the VPD Canine Unit routinely place in the top five in all categories.
Day 38: The Avatar Robot
The Vancouver Police Department’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) uses a combination of specialized training, equipment, tactics and negotiation strategies in its efforts to safely resolve high-risk incidents. The ERT is made up of 40 tactical members and has assistance from 16 ERT-trained dog handlers, 24 crisis negotiators, technical specialists, and critical incident commanders. They work in numerous specialized environments including: high angle operations such as high-rise buildings, assisting the VPD marine squad, rural areas, explosive disposals, and hazardous chemical situations.
In 2012, the Foundation purchased a special micro robot for the Emergency Response Team (ERT). The Avatar Micro is an 20lb extremely mobile, rugged, and watertight robotic platform that helps the ERT in numerous situations. It can climb stairs, locate targets, clear open areas, and has a specialized 2-way speaker. A second piece of special equipment was purchased in 2013 to increase Avatar’s capabilities. The Extended Arm allows the robot operator to see overtop obstacles, open and close doors, and manipulate objects of a hazardous nature. It also enhances the ERT’s ability to deploy this specialized robot during critical incidents and limit potential hazards to team members.
Day 39: St. Paul’s Hospital Hub
On September 24th 2016, the Vancouver Police Foundation was proud to announce its leadership donation of $750,000 towards a new Mental Health HUB at St. Paul’s Hospital. This innovative facility will efficiently connect patients with care givers, reduce wait times at hospital and provide long-term solutions to the complex challenges associated with mental illness and drug addiction. The gift was made possible through an anonymous donation made to the Vancouver Police Foundation by a donor who recognized the need for more resources and wanted to assist the VPD and the Foundation with our focus on the area of Mental Health and Addictions.
Both the Vancouver Police Department and Foundation stressed the importance of freeing up police resources by reducing escort times at Emergency Department at St. Paul’s Hospital. The intent of the HUB is to improve the quality of service for people who are struggling with serious mental health and addictions by providing quicker service and decreasing the ‘revolving door’ of crisis response. Once individuals are stabilized at the HUB, the Vancouver Police Foundation Transitional Centre will fill a critical transition gap by providing referral to housing, other social services, and follow-up care. Both the Vancouver Police Department and Foundation stressed the importance of freeing up police resources by reducing escort times at Emergency Department at St. Paul’s Hospital.
Day 40: Stanley Park Horse Paddock
Over a century ago in 1908, the Vancouver Police Mounted Squad was formed. At the time the Mounted Squad had 11 officers and 12 horses. The first patrolman on horseback would be assigned to patrol Stanley Park a year later. The Mounted Unit and the Vancouver Police Foundation has made a concerted effort in the past to improve the outdoor stabling conditions for the horses. The VPD outdoor stables are located in Stanley Park and were built 20 years ago, along with a barn. At the time, no proper drainage was considered and this caused issues every year making the riding facility unusable for training in the winter months.
The Foundation and the Mounted Unit have made numerous efforts in the past to improve the outdoor stabling conditions for the VPD horses. In 2013, the Foundation provided funding for the improvement project of the stables. This improvement project included: a fire suppression system in the outdoor barn, security fencing, removal of existing contaminated paddock soil, and re-grading and a new drainage system. This project made the stables a safe and usable training facility in the winter months. At the moment there are nine horses of different breeds in the unit, with draught horse crosses being the most successful, and they range in age 4 to 23. When not keeping watch over the 1000 acres and 125 miles of roads and trails in Stanley Park, you may spot officers on horseback throughout Vancouver.