Learn more about VPD Detective Constable Kerry-Anne and her passion to be on the frontlines of support in her community in PART ONE we shared earlier this week. Today, we talk with Kerry-Anne about her recent designation as 2023 VPD Police Officer of the Year and her role in some of Vancouver’s most important investigations.
After immigrating from South Africa to Canada in 2006, Kerry-Anne joined the VPD in 2011 and got her start in Patrol. From there she moved on to the Property Crime Unit, then to the Organized Crime Section, and now she has found an incredibly rewarding and successful niche investigating sex crimes in the Investigation Division.
The VPD’s Investigation Division investigates hundreds of complex cases each year including homicides, serious robberies and assaults, organized crime, drug trafficking, sex offences, child exploitation, domestic violence, financial crimes, cybercrimes, and more. Kerry-Anne’s remarkable ability to connect with both victims and suspects has landed her incredible experience – and success – on the Forensic Interview Team.
She is also one of two VPD representatives to the Policing and Security Branch of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, where she will assist the VPD Training Unit in implementing provincially mandated training for sexual assault investigations.
Firstly, what does it mean to you to be designated as VPD 2023 Police Officer of the Year?
It is an incredibly humbling experience. I know about 600 police officers who they overlooked and are worthy of this high recognition – and those are just the ones I know and have benefitted from working alongside. This career is one that I feel indebted to – because of the people; their support, kindness, and willingness to share their knowledge. ‘Solo success’ simply does not exist in policing. A piece that means the most is, I know the source of this nomination – they are leaders who I have the most respect for and who I strive to emulate.
What has your experience been like as part of the VPD Forensic Interview Team?
Special Investigations and Forensic Interviewing is uniquely challenging as the files often involve the most vulnerable members of our community – children, seniors, sex trade workers and of course some of the most difficult subject matter. Having said that, being a part of the Special Investigations Unit and Forensic Interview Team has been a highlight of my career. Seeing first-hand the detectives and civilian member’s work ethic, perseverance and investigative skills to bring repeat and sexual based offenders before the court is remarkable. I remain in awe of these dedicated individuals who carry a heavy workload and I am grateful to learn and work alongside them.
Forensic Interviewing is fascinating, it is a truth finding activity that can serve the investigation in a number of ways, even possibly exonerate the suspect. It gives you the opportunity to build rapport, use trauma informed techniques and empathize with the interviewee. Justice is often not always served in a court verdict. Often the process, in particular the interview, can allow for the victim to regain control and move forward.
Is there file you’ve worked on in Investigations that you are particularly proud of?
Yes, there is a specific file that comes to mind. The lead officer on the file was new to Special Investigations which allowed me to work in a mentor capacity with her – this was very rewarding. It benefited me greatly to see her move from the early stages of the investigation right through to the end, allowing her to grow professionally.
The suspect in this particular investigation was an online predator luring young girls and then meeting and violently sexually assaulting them. He remained undetected for several years prior to us identifying and arresting him. My supervisor, Astrid Bonter implemented a number of innovative techniques, she worked tirelessly, inspiring our entire unit to move quickly, knowing the community risk the suspect posed.
There were also many barriers to get through – the young victim was from an immigrant family and she was afraid of not being believed. She carried shame and guilt that should not, but unfortunately often comes along with reporting sexual-based crimes. The VPD school liaison officer successfully built rapport with this young woman in a way that she was comfortable speaking to police to share her private story.
Eventually, we were able to identify the violent predator and bring him in for a full investigative interview, where he confessed to a list of sexual based crimes, all involving young females.
Being part of the full investigation cycle, working 24/7 alongside such determined investigators and civilians to unmask this online predator and stop him, will always serve as a reminder that I have the best job.
The unsettling nature of your files must take a toll on you and your colleagues. How to you cope with the disturbing content you uncover during your investigations?
The VPD has an excellent internal Critical Incident Stress Management Team that has worked tirelessly to harness a culture of mental health awareness and minimize stigma. Through this team, I have received invaluable training so I can better support my colleagues as they work through traumatic files and critical incidents. In turn, I am fortunate to receive support back, so I can continue to do this job at an optimal level and serve our community.
After working on very difficult files, how do you unwind after shifts?
I am extremely lucky because I have a very patient, engaged partner, Christina, who knows how much this work means to me and helps me maintain balance and vent. I am grateful to have the love and unwavering support of my family; Ingrid, Tara and Bart and a yellow lab Finley who makes all things better.
Please join us in congratulating Kerry-Anne on her well-deserved designation as 2023 VPD Police Office of the Year!
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