VPD member Tim Houchen sees people on their worst days. And he sees them on their worst day, every day. Sergeant Houchen works at the VPD Jail, which is the busiest jail in British Columbia – 16,000 individuals per year pass through its doors. Like many of us, as children they started off with hopes and dreams, and which did not include going to jail, or being on the street or being involved in crime. Sgt. Houchen believes that “anything we can do to break down those barriers, helps in the long run.” He means treating people with respect, finding opportunities to provide a hand up, not a hand-out, and trying to reach young people before it’s too late.
It’s why he’s started a number of different programs over the years – aimed at young people who are marginalized and programs that are currently running in the jail. In a recent phone call, Sgt. Houchen noted that “most of the people who go through the Jail may need something. I hate to see someone leaving the Jail with a soiled piece of clothing…no shoes…no warm clothing in cold weather. You become a police officer to help people, and these little bits, they help people.” The ‘little bits’ Sgt. Houchen is referring to are clothing, personal hygiene products, water and snacks to help ease them back into society, but most importantly, to break down barriers and encourage positive outcomes for these individuals.
Sgt. Houchen has named the program ICARE Kits – after the VPD’s values of Integrity, Compassion, Accountability, Respect and Excellence. Not everyone leaves with a kit – in some cases, they may be broken down as one person may just require a t-shirt and another may need a toothbrush. As far as it’s possible, Sgt. Houchen tries to meet individual needs. We are so grateful for the generosity of the Tzu Chi Foundation, Rick’s Hearts Foundation and London Drugs for making these kits possible.
The most recent recipient of an ICARE kit was a 70-year old man with no fixed address, who was given one upon his release from the jail. Sgt. Houchen said that there really are no words to describe how life changing something like this can be – and was for that man.
We can believe it.
Thank you Sgt. Houchen and all the members of the VPD who are out on the streets, in the jail, and in neighbourhoods around the city keeping us safe and doing their best to change lives for the better.
Stay tuned for more information about some youth programs that Sgt. Houchen has led over the years. They have definitely changed lives for the better.
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