Vancouver police launch big recruitment drive to reflect city’s diversity

Article would benefit from including the current diversity numbers (which Vancouver currently does not publish these):

Vancouver is launching the largest police recruiting drive in almost a decade, and the key word for this new class of officers will be diversity, officials said.

Deputy Chief Steve Rai said the police force wants hire 85 new officers by next spring, the largest recruiting figure since the pre-Olympics effort in 2008 and more than twice the size of a normal recruiting class.

Add in 20 recruits sworn in on Thursday, and that’s an addition of more than 100 officers to a police service of 1,400 — a big injection of new blood.

While the VPD has no quotas for members from specific communities, Rai said it is crucial that the police department reflects the multicultural community that it serves. With that in mind, VDP has been stepping up its outreach to cultural communities, hoping it will lead to a multicultural mix of recruits.

“You look at what happens when your police force don’t reflect the community, and you only have to look south of the border,” he said. “You see people feeling it’s ‘us-against-them,’ and there’s a lack of trust.

 “It’s about acquiring, building and maintaining public trust … We are all in this together, so it starts with citizens seeing their police forces reflecting of them and the community. It has to reflect the fact it’s not ‘us-against-them,’ but ‘we.’”

According to the 2011 census, Vancouver has 18 languages identified as “most spoken at home” by more than 1,000 residents each. Besides English, the most spoken language at home for 98,855 Vancouverites were Chinese languages. Punjabi (10,500), Tagalog (9,345), Vietnamese (7,475), Korean (5,445) and Spanish (5,245) all topped 5,000 speakers.

Rai admits that there remains a stigma in some communities about policing, stemming from experiences and perceptions of police in other countries. He said the VPD is trying to break down the walls by attending as many community events as possible, and that as the second-generation acclimatizes to Canadian culture, the acceptance level has correspondingly risen.

“I know a lot of parents who aren’t supportive of their kids to go into policing because of the stigma that exists in their countries of origin,” Rai said. “But as time passes, barriers come down. You build that trust by talking to people and being sincere.

“We understand we have to flexible with changing society norms, and we want to make sure we hire the best,” he added. “We will mentor you to be successful, no matter what your background is. I’m a 25-year member, and there’s not one day that I’ve ever regretted my decision to become a police officer. The profession sells itself.”

Source: Vancouver police launch big recruitment drive to reflect city’s diversity | Vancouver Sun

Meanwhile:

The Vancouver Police Department says street checks are not on the rise, two weeks after the police complaint commissioner expressed concern about the department’s use of the practice.

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, a provincial body that oversees complaints involving municipal police, in a report late last month cited “an increasing trend in complaint allegations involving the police practice of conducting street checks.” The report, however, did not provide a total.

Street checks, or carding, can refer to stopping individuals to gather information without a reasonable suspicion of an offence. The issue has drawn significant attention in Ontario, where the provincial government announced regulations restricting carding in March after complaints were raised about privacy violations and police were accused of disproportionately targeting minorities.

Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer said he has not seen any numbers to validate the police complaint commissioner’s claim.

“I’ve got no data to suggest that that is the case. I’d be happy to see data if someone is providing it,” he told reporters outside a police board meeting Thursday.

A Vancouver Police Department spokesman said it conducted about 6,200 street checks last year – compared with 6,900 two years ago, and 7,300 three years ago.

…Chief Palmer said he meets with his department’s professional standards section every week but has not seen an increase in complaints involving street checks.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner said it has observed an increase in such complaints, but is still working to pull the exact number from its files.

 Vancouver Police Department denies that carding is on the rise 

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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