Cst. Byron Yee has been with the VPD for nearly 20 years. He currently is the Chinatown-Gastown Neighbourhood Police Officer. For the past five years, Byron has been working with individuals and businesses in these neighbourhoods to build a stronger relationship with the VPD and address neighbourhood concerns and frustration.
Both communities border the Downtown Eastside – the most challenging place in Vancouver and one of the most challenging in Canada. Hundreds of people with severe addiction and mental health issues call the DTES home. As a result, property and serious crime have increased in both Gastown and Chinatown. While serious crime and priority calls are responded to by the VPD, many other lower priority calls have to be reported to the non-emergency line. There are no translators, and there can be long waiting times, which has discouraged people from reporting.
Byron has made it his mission to help alleviate these frustrations and help people in these communities problem-solve and develop unique and tailored responses.
One area that he and Chinese CPC Executive Director Elisha Yao identified was the personal safety of residents. They developed a program to provide 8,000 residents with a personal safety alarm, which, when triggered, is expected to deter criminals from doing harm, bring other neighbours out to help and generally provide a sense of empowerment.
They had identified several different options to distribute these alarms, but unfortunately, the pandemic has put much of those activities on hold. They are continuing to look for ways to get them into the hands of residents safely. We look forward to providing more detail as these plans firm up!
Cst. Yee loves the variety that policing brings. Each day is very different, but more than that, he appreciates the different perspectives he has today. It has been shaped by hearing and dealing with so many different people – from diverse backgrounds, cultures, languages, countries and experiences. We asked him about the most challenging thing he’s experienced on the job. He said without a doubt, it’s the fact that their workloads are so busy, they cannot always do as much as they’d like for people and that they really do want to help everyone.
Stay tuned for more details about the Personal Safety Alarms initiative. If you want to help support officers like Cst. Yee and programs like this, you can make a donation today.
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