The Vancouver Police Ceremonial Unit is comprised of serving and retired sworn members of the Department who volunteer to represent the Vancouver Police and the City of Vancouver.
Formed in 1986, the unit is administered through the Office of the Chief Constable. The intent and design of the Ceremonial Unit is to:
- portray a professional police image to the general public through community events
- provide Colour Party or Standard Bearer duties
- provide Ceremonial Guard duties
- provide Honour Guards to render police honours at funerals
Members of the unit attend funerals and memorials of serving and retired members on their own time. The essence of volunteerism of the unit is embodied in this act and the members continue to volunteer their time for this noble endeavour.
The Ceremonial Unit will serve in a memorial function for all sworn members (serving and retired) of the Department when requested by the family, and to the funeral or memorial of any sworn member of a Canadian or American Police Service as a show of support. The Ceremonial Unit will attend the Canadian and British Columbia Police Officers Memorial Services and Remembrance Day Ceremonies. The Ceremonial Unit may attend other events when requested or approved by the Chief Constable.
The approved strength of the Ceremonial Unit is 40 and any retired members who wish to continue representing the Department. The average attendance to a large function requiring a full contingent of the unit is approximately 20 members. Practices are held once a month at the Seaforth Armouries.
The Vancouver Police Ceremonial Marching Unit (now called the Vancouver Police Ceremonial Unit) was inaugurated in 1985 for the Sea Festival Parade. The Constitution of the unit was established on May 12, 1986 setting the strength of the unit at 32 members plus 3 supernumeraries (retired officers) for a total strength of 35 members.
In 1985, the Ceremonial Unit attended the Sea Festival Parade, Remembrance Day parade, and the opening of the Cambie Street Bridge. Other events the unit attended in the early years included the annual church parade, the Centennial Police show, the PNE parade, as well as performing honour guard duties at the Officers' Mess Dinner, the Police Ball, and many funerals.
The early practice days were held twice per month at the B.C. Transit bus depot at 16th and Cambie.
By 1995, the Ceremonial Unit attended more than 28 functions a year. In 1996 the Ceremonial Unit traveled to Ottawa for the first time to attend the National Peace Officers Memorial Service. The unit was assigned a position of honour as wreath bearers, and continues in that role today. The Ceremony takes place on Parliament Hill, and is attended by more than one thousand police and peace officers from across North America. The members who attend this yearly event pay for most of the trip out of their own pocket, serving as willing ambassadors of Vancouver.
By 2001, the Ceremonial Unit attended a total of 50 annual events. The Ceremonial Unit is now the recognized representative of the Vancouver Police Department at functions and events throughout the city and country.
The standard of dress for Ceremonial Unit members in 1985 included the standard dress uniform, white gloves and a lanyard and an issue belt and holster. New uniforms were received in 1986 especially made for the Ceremonial Unit, replacing the standard dress uniform.
There have been changes to the uniform over the years, the most notable being new shoulder flashes worn for the first time on Remembrance Day, 2000. Service stars and silver epaulettes were added to the uniform, and the white belt was replaced with a blue and silver belt in 2002.