(…Cue some upbeat music, heavy on the saxophone…bring in big dude with public address announcer voice…)
From the Cambie Street headquarters of the Vancouver Police Department…it’s Tuesday afternoon live with….the Vancouver Police Board!..
(…Cue applause meter…)
Yep, it’s true — the Vancouver Police Board is now on the air.
The first episode was broadcast Oct.15 via the VPD’s website.
“Welcome to all those who are watching online,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson at the beginning of the meeting. “We welcome the openness and transparency. This is a civilian board representing the citizens of Vancouver.”
That it is.
And if you’re wondering what Robertson was doing there, he’s the chairperson of the police board. It’s a position he inherited when he was elected mayor in November 2008.
He leads a board of six civilians appointed by the provincial and municipal governments.
The board is the governing body of the police department. So it has a pretty important role when it comes to finances, policy and complaints against officers. It’s also responsible for hiring and, if need be, firing the chief. Anybody remember the board not renewing the contract of some guy named Bruce Chambers?
If you tune in, you’ll see Police Chief Jim Chu and his three deputy chiefs — Warren Lemcke, Adam Palmer and Doug LePard — in attendance to answer questions from the board.
Speaking from experience, not many citizens attend these meetings. In fact, media usually outnumber regular folk. Maybe it’s because board meetings are scheduled for 1 p.m., once a month on Tuesdays. Or maybe it’s because people can’t be bothered.
Board members have long lamented the fact that the police board is essentially the Rodney Dangerfield of city agencies — getting no respect — and want the public to understand more about what they do.
The topics can be interesting.
Tuesday’s meeting covered racism, marijuana, troubled kids and crime statistics. Chu also talked about his decision to join Twitter, which he used to advertise Tuesday’s meeting.
Yes, the chief is on Twitter (@ChiefJimChu).
Sadly, the handle @BigLeagueChu is already taken but that hasn’t stopped Chu from inflecting humour in his tweets.
A sample from his recent night out with a downtown patrol team:
- Working patrol shift Friday and will tweet calls. Last time, a guy was surprised it was me arresting him. I told him he was special.
- Working tonight with officers that keep downtown safe. This is some of them at roll call. Yep, that’s a donut box (The chief attached a pic of officers at a table with a box of donuts.)
- 4 Aussie tourists lit fireworks on beach in English Bay. Told this not OK, but shrimp on barbie is OK.
- We checked 2 Lambos, white one had an N. Drivers were wondering when the mounted unit showed up as back-up. (The chief was referring to Lamborghinis and he tweeted out a photo with officers on horseback, who happened to be in the area, behind the luxury cars.)
So there you go, faithful readers, you no longer have to take my word for what’s going on at police board or have me inform you what the chief is up to. Hashtag: #butifyouwantanalysiskeepreadingmystories
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