Each year, people like you help the Vancouver Police Foundation provide $1 million in funding to support Vancouver Police Department initiatives that are above and beyond the regular operating budget. Seed funding, to get programs up and running, or to provide proof of concept, has helped programs like Project 529, BC Women in Law Enforcement, Good Night Out Vancouver and others to get started.
In 2019, we were honoured to provide start-up funding to Out on Patrol, a new peer-support initiative for law enforcement personnel, which will focus on community engagement, charitable works and education.
Cst. Chris Birkett wrote the application and spearheaded this initiative for VPD members. He has been working on this idea since 2017 after attending a fundraiser for camp out for LGBTQ2S+ youth. Their conversations about how it filled a unique need ultimately led to the development of Out On Patrol. We recently connected with Chris to talk about how the Department’s support for this idea and its progressiveness helped to move the idea forward.
Peer support has already gained a foothold in mental health and wellness circles, particularly with respect to resiliency. In law enforcement, with additional stressors for first responders, Out On Patrol provides the safe space needed to address some of these issues for officers, but Chris also sees it as a great bridge to the LGBTQ2S community. He knows first-hand how positive interactions with law enforcement can shape people’s beliefs and attitudes for a lifetime.
Chris went to high school in East Vancouver, and the VPD School Liaison Officer (SLO) encouraged him to attend the annual Student Challenge (another VPF funded program!). Not only was the SLO an incredible role model for Chris, but the Student Challenge showed him so many different ways that police have an essential role in addressing and preventing crime, and truly helping to build the community.
Out On Patrol is not just for LGBTQ2S+ officers – they welcome everyone and especially allies. We here at the VPF are so appreciative to have been granted an Honourary Membership and can’t wait to participate in some of their events.
The official launch has been really well-received so far, and we hope that our entire community will support this progressive initiative and the passionate, dedicated members like Chris, who are determined to make it successful.