Keeping Vancouver safe: VPD plans for next five years

Vancouver Police Department's strategic plan targets issues such as drugs, mental health and property crime

Reducing demand for harmful drugs, working with St. Paul’s Hospital to help people with mental health issues and making better use of technology are just three of the Vancouver Police Department’s goals for the next five years.
On Monday morning, Chief Const. Adam Palmer revealed the department’s new five-year strategic plan. By focusing on the things that make people feel unsafe, the department recognizes that there are a myriad of causes.
When a reporter at the press conference mentioned the “war on drugs”, Palmer said that is an American term that no police departments in Canada use.
“You will never win a ‘war on drugs’,” he said. The VPD has been concentrating on higher-level traffickers rather than people selling drugs on the street, believing that is more effective. “We found it to be a better use of our time to go higher up in the food chain.”
But, Palmer added, the goal is to help address the problem by reducing the demand for drugs.
The VPD plans to reduce the impact of alcohol and drug use in city parks and entertainment districts by working with government agencies, business owners and event organizers.
It has created a new partnership with St. Paul’s Hospital to help people with mental health issues and reduce the amount of time officers have to spend at the hospital, getting them back on the streets more quickly. Respondents to surveys and focus groups also identified keeping people with a mental illness out of danger from predatory criminals as a goal.
The VPD wants to foster better relationships and trust with youth, First Nations and the LGBTQ communities, among others. One approach is through mentoring programs such as the Police Athletic League, Student Challenge and Cadet program.
Leading-edge technologies will help officers identify trends earlier. Its geo-dash crime map identifies where crimes are taking place, and codes the various types of offences. The frequently updated map is accessible on its website, This program augments its crime “heat maps” which identify where various crimes are taking place. This information helps police develop strategies to deal with these crimes.
The VPD wants to lower the impact of violent crimes by addressing the causes, using overt and covert methods. Repeat offenders of property crime will be targeted, with particular attention to crimes of opportunity such as the theft of personal electronic devices and bikes.
Finally, as well as being responsible for keeping Vancouver safe, Palmer is also the boss of hundreds of employees, from police officers to support and management staff. The strategic plan calls for fostering a culture of employee engagement and effective communication.
Communications will be more direct with an increase in personal contact and shared information between management and front-line staff. Comprehensive and adaptive training will be provided and an independent consultant will do a “thorough operational review to ensure we have enough staff to meet our strategic priorities.”
“We have a lot ahead of us,” Palmer said of the 2017-2021 strategic plan.

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