VANCOUVER POLICE DEPARTMENT STUDENT CHALLENGE PROGRAM
The VPD Student Challenge Program began in 1997. The program is administered by the School Liaison Unit of the Youth Services Section; however, it also relies on police members from various sections who volunteer their time and effort to ensure the success of this annual program.
The Student Challenge Program is an eight-day “youth police academy,” which runs during the school Spring Break. From the several hundred applications received, 48 Grade 11 and 12 students from Vancouver area schools are selected to participate.
The program involves classroom work in areas such as legal studies, investigation and patrol, and human relations. Successful applicants will be involved in a rigorous physical training program, which includes the POPAT (Police Officer’s Physical Abilities Test), daily runs, team challenges, control tactics and drill instruction. Students also receive lectures and demonstrations from specially trained members such as, Dog Squad, Homicide Unit, Drug Unit, Forensic Identification Unit and other sections within the VPD.
A brief description of some of the training includes:
Investigation and Patrol - This prepares the students how to properly and safely handle patrol calls in scenario based situations. Instructions include police procedures and strategies, radio protocol, and officer safety.
Physical Training - This includes daily runs, the POPAT, control tactics, a timed run and other team challenges. A high level of fitness is required.
Specialty Squads - Students receive lectures and demonstrations from specialty units which will cover areas of evidence gathering and preservation, major case management, police dog functions, Emergency Response Team demonstration and traffic education.
Firearms Training - Students are taught firearm safety and handling. They are educated about various police firearms and less lethal weapons. This once-in-a-lifetime experience allows students to fire a variety of police firearms with one to one supervision at the new state of the art Force Options Tactical Training Centre.
The Student Challenge also includes a camp component consisting of three nights and four days at Timberline Ranch in Maple Ridge. Here, the students experience an exhilarating and exhausting schedule including reality based training scenarios, team challenges and patrol shift simulations.
The Student Challenge concludes with a graduation ceremony which is hosted at a Vancouver secondary school on the last day of the program. The students are presented with certificates recognizing their commitment and effort.
The continued success of this unique program is largely dependent on the generous donations from organizations such as the Vancouver Police Foundation. To date, 576 students have completed the Student Challenge. It’s estimated that approximately 20 past participants have been successful in pursuing a career in law enforcement. Others have gone onto volunteering with Community Crime Watch, Citizens’ Crime Watch and Community Policing Centres.
2017 Student Challenge
The 2017 VPD Student Challenge will take place from March 12 to 19, 2017.