Several Vancouver cops were among more than 100 police officers from across the province last week recognized at the 37th annual Police Honours Night in Victoria.
“We rely on the officers we honour tonight to do the difficult and dangerous work of protecting all that we hold dear, often without expressing the gratitude and the respect they so deserve,” Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said from Government House last week. “Tonight’s awards allow us to recognize the officers who reach incredible lengths to fulfill their oaths to protect and serve their communities.”
Farnworth and Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin presented the awards to 106 police officers from across the province.
“I am pleased to congratulate those being honoured for exemplary service to the citizens of British Columbia,” Austin said. “Your bravery and commitment to the safety and well-being of the public, even at the risk of your own lives cannot be commended enough.”
Vancouver constables Viet Hoang, Jeannie Kwan and Clayton Richardson were given Awards of Valour for safely apprehending a mentally ill man armed with a knife.
It was January 2017 and the three officers were responding to a call about a man who was in a mental health crisis and had thrown a table out his front window. When the officers arrived at the scene and entered the man’s home he came at them with a knife, stabbing Hoang in the chest striking the officer’s protective vest. He was not physically injured.
In the face of the attack, the officers were able to get the man under control and to medical professionals without using any form of deadly force.
Several members of the VPD’s emergency response team — Sgt. Aaron Kazuta and Constables Wesley Cordick, Cameron Hemphill, Chris Koch, Sam Primerano, Jamie Proust and Michael Wager — also received Awards of Valour last week at Government House for their work responding to a September 2015 call where a suspect had entered a home just over the border in Burnaby.
The suspect had entered the home, shot one man and continued shooting as a woman fled the home with a small child. Officers were also aware that there was another person hiding in the home. Working side-by-side with the RCMP emergency response team, the officers entered the home, rescued a woman hiding upstairs and apprehended the suspect.
Several other Vancouver officers received Awards of Meritorious Service.
Insp. Colleen Yee and Det. Const. Alice Yee were recognized for establishing the Women’s Personal Safety Team. The team was formed in 2012 following the Women’s Safety Fair where five police officers gave an interactive presentation aimed at empowering women by teaching them personal safety techniques.
Following that, more requests starting coming in and the two officers stepped up to coordinate the newly created team, which has grown to include more than 30 officers who all volunteer their time to teach personal safety techniques. Since 2012, the team has presented more than 60 workshops to about 2,000 women.
The officers also received a Chief Constable’s Commendation in March at this year’s VPD Commendation Awards.
Det. Const. Alexander Charles also received an Award of Meritorious Service for his work creating an anti-gang diversion program for young people at risk of heading down that path.
He joined the department’s gang crime unit in 2014 and started the Gang Tackle program, with the belief that sport combined with mentoring could deter young people away from a life of crime. The former football player, who laced up for the UBC Thunderbird and the B.C. Lions, used his contacts to bring together professional athletes, UBC Thunderbird alumni and police officers to play flag football teens selected by VPD school liaison officers.
After the games, athletes would give talks and former gang members would talk to the kids about the myths and realities of gang life.
Charles was also recognized with a VPD Chief Constable’s Commendation.
Sgt. Peter Sadler, who was the 2017 VPD’s Police Officer of the Year, also received an Award of Meritorious Service last week.
With more than 30 years on the job, and working in a variety of operational and investigative sections, Sadler has led a team of officers policing the Downtown Eastside since 2014. In three years he initiated or supervised 27 projects in the area, which resulted in large seizures of drugs and firearms. More recently, Sadler has turned his focus almost exclusively on fentanyl trafficking.
He was recognized for “outstanding leadership and commitment to policing.”