This just in – cops can be a secretive bunch.
So wouldn’t it be cool if you could find out more about what they’re up to when you see them in your neighbourhood, or in your travels around the city?
Well you actually can, sort of.
In fact, you could have been poking in to what they’re doing for years – maybe not the details of an arrest they’re making, but why they’re at St. Paul’s Hospital talking to doctors, or hanging out at luxury car dealerships.
The Vancouver Police Department has released its “strategic business plan” for 2020. The plan, which is available on the VPD’s website, provides an indication of what police will be focused on this year.
It’s a spreadsheet of sorts, with the VPD section identified, activities underway, targeted measures and outcomes. It also tells you who is in charge of those measures and budget implications, if any.
So what are the cops doing at St. Paul’s Hospital?
Recent VPD statistics showed the number of apprehensions police have made of people under the Mental Health Act has increased over the last three years.
So the business plan calls for police to work with St. Paul’s, Vancouver General Hospital and community care services to reduce the number of apprehensions by way of better treatment for people living with a mental illness.
The plan also calls for the same group to work on reducing the time police have to wait with a person before they’re admitted to hospital.
Among the goals: “Work with doctors to modernize the Mental Health Act to allow police to deliver patients to a designated facility rather than to a physician.”
As for officers hanging out at luxury car dealerships, the plan calls for the VPD’s identity theft unit to work with dealerships and banks to reduce the number of fraudulent purchases of high-end vehicles with the use of stolen identities.
This is in line with a B.C. government-commissioned report released in May 2019 that revealed the luxury car sector is being used to launder the proceeds of crime.
The report, conducted by former RCMP officer Peter German, found car dealers in B.C. reporting that people were bringing bags of money or orchestrating multiple small international wire transfers to different accounts to buy cars.
While many of the goals in the plan are expected of a police force – reduce the number of break-ins to homes and businesses – others aren’t and apply to some of the city’s most pressing social issues, including drug addiction and homelessness.
This year, police plan to launch a study with health experts that involves tracking drug users’ recidivism rates after leaving jail and receiving treatment. There’s also a commitment to “educate VPD members on ways to assist those with substance use disorders.”
The department is considering adding a second homeless liaison officer position and listed among its “targeted measures” to increase the number of homeless people “supported into shelters and permanent housing.”
Cybercrime is an area police will continue to spend more time on this year, with the Cybercrime Unit expected to conduct a “proactive dark web drug project” in partnership with the department’s organized crime section.
The unit’s work will also focus on identifying “critical infrastructure in Vancouver to protect against cyber threats, develop contingency plans and participate in tabletop exercises with representatives from both the private and public sector.”
Some more of the VPD’s goals for 2020:
- Initiate combined forces projects targeting human trafficking and firearm traffickers.
- Produce a monthly hate crimes report.
- Assist 150 “vulnerable individuals” obtain official provincial identification.
- Distribute 40 cellphones equipped to call 911 to people without means to afford a phone and whose safety is paramount.
- Conduct a minimum of 30 CounterAttack roadblocks.
- Identify and recruit Indigenous youth to the Indigenous youth cadet program.
- Engage up to 400 youth in “respectful relationships” workshops and sessions.
- Continue to increase the number of corporate businesses as well as police agencies trained in the LGBTQ2S+ education program.
- Ensure that one or more “significant joint investigation/operations division violent crime projects” are active each month.
- Increase the reporting of domestic violence.
- Reduce the number of offenders wanted on outstanding warrants.
- Increase the number of social media posts that educate the public about cyber threat prevention.
- Create a vending task force to reduce violence in the Downtown Eastside and decrease the number of complaints for unpermitted vending received by the City of Vancouver’s 311 service centre.•
- Have a minimum of 175 officers certified in how to conduct a Standardized Field Sobriety Test and another 30 as Drug Recognition experts.
The plan also calls for all frontline officers to receive “respectful workplace awareness training,” which is interesting considering what I learned from a request last year under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
At least 51 officers and 18 civilian staff say they were the subject of workplace harassment at some point between 2017 and 2018. The harassment identified was primarily related to race, gender, ancestry and sexual harassment, according to results of a survey completed in 2018 by VPD officers and staff.
One other thing: If you drive a car, best to adhere to the rules of the road and don’t be a goof because the plan also calls for “increases in ticket production within all traffic squads.”