Community & Public Affairs Section
The VPD Community & Public Affairs Section is comprised of a number of units and programs, that work to keep the city safe and informed.
The Vancouver Police Department was one of the first police departments in North America to hold a daily press conference for our local media. At the conference, we discuss what has happened in the city overnight, as well as give updates for ongoing investigations. We also announce any public advisories or suspect descriptions, asking for the public's assistance.
Media relations is a major activity for this section, with our two media relations officers fielding hundreds of calls every week from local, national and international media for information and interviews.
This Unit produces the publication Beyond the Call which is dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the achievements of Vancouver Police Department officers and civilians who routinely go Beyond the Call of duty. It is available to the public, as well as employees, both in hardcopy and on the Internet.
In 2004, the Department took the unprecedented step of publishing our Annual Report in The Vancouver Sun, which was also produced by the Community & Public Affairs Section, along with input from other sections of the Department. We have continued to do so every year since.
This Unit is staffed by two civilians, a graphic designer and a communications coordinator. They produce scores of brochures, flyers and certificates for all areas of the Department, including volunteer areas such as community policing. The collateral they produce plays a major role in crime prevention and public awareness. They are also responsible for maintaining the content of the department website at vpd.ca.
In December 2005, the VPD launched an innovative crime prevention program called "Are You Helping Thieves?". This multimedia campaign, involving TV, radio, print, brochures, as well as bus shelters and Skytrain posters, produced media exposure worth more than a half a million dollars, all of it donated by partners interested in crime prevention. This Section was and continues to be the driving force behind the campaign.
The Section has also been the driver behind two other major public awareness campaigns. In 2008, a campaign called "If You Leave it, Thieves Won't" was launched to battle theft from auto. The Section played a major role in producing a campaign for a highly successful provincial-wide gun amnesty.
With the addition of the staff and resources of Block Watch, Citizens' Crime Watch, Community Policing and Business Liaison, the Section's crime prevention capabilities expanded greatly.
Community Policing Centres
Community policing is a police philosophy that involves problem solving with the assistance of the community. It has many forms: Block Watch, Citizens' Crime Watch and the Community Policing Centres are all part of that philosophy. The Community Policing Centres are run by volunteer boards of directors with funding from the City of Vancouver and other donations.
The Community & Public Affairs Section, with the addition of the reassigned Community Policing Sergeant, plays a major role in the potential success of CPCs. The task is challenging since nine of the centres are independent and run entirely by volunteer civilian societies. But if the centres cannot show the City of Vancouver that they are professional, accountable and measurable, they risk losing their individual funding from the city of $100,000 each. If they fail, the consequences can significantly and negatively affect the public safety and the VPD's Strategic Plan.
The Sergeant and the Section devise strategies, training and direction to preserve and enhance this important asset for the community. Their goal is to encourage and assist the centres to achieve consistent and uniform standards of success. This includes devising and implementing strategic plan templates, communication plans, communication training, report writing templates and suggesting measurable goals.
Citizens' Crime Watch
This is another important aspect of community policing that engages more than 100 volunteers to patrol neighbourhoods reporting stolen cars and suspicious activity. There is one sworn officer assigned to this unit and he is responsible for increasing recruitment of volunteers, devising strategies to improve their effectiveness and seeking and supplying adequate resources to ensure their success. He champions this program both internally among police personnel and externally to the public.
The CCW program enjoys support from additional community partners and funding where appropriate. ICBC has been a natural partner since the volunteers routinely recover hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stolen cars.
Block Watch Unit
Block Watch remains one of the most effective crime prevention programs ever devised. The system involves local neighborhoods forming committees of residents who agree to watch out for each other. Currently there are about 600 of these groups across the city. The unit is run by one civilian and one constable. Community & Public Affairs provides assistance with communication collateral and public awareness.
Victim Services Unit
Victim Services provides victims and witnesses with professional, supportive and timely assistance, to lessen the impact of crime and trauma. Our services may include emotional support, practical assistance, justice related information, and referrals to other agencies.
The Community & Public Affairs Section assists by raising awareness within the Department that this service is available to officers at crime scenes. The Victim Services Unit is staffed by a full-time manager and six full-time case workers, in addition to approximately ten part-time case workers, all of whom are civilian.
Business Liaison Unit
The Business Liaison Unit consists of one sworn officer who is responsible for delivering crime prevention programs and advice to businesses across the city. The constable in this role is also the back up media relations officer in a succession role.
Diversity and Aboriginal Policing Section
The Diversity and Aboriginal Policing Section which was added to Community and Public Affairs in 2010, works with specific populations within the City that have significant public safety issues. These populations can be defined by a cultural, economic, ethnic, sexual, racial, religious, marginalizing or some other distinguishing characteristic.
In 1996, the VPD created the Diversity Advisory Committee, a dynamic group of appointed citizens who act as a consultative and advisory body to the Office of the Chief Constable on diversity issues.
Community & Public Affairs Staff and Resource Summary
- Senior Director - one (civilian)
- Media Unit - two (constables)
- Community Policing - one (sergeant)
- Business Liaison Unit - one (constable)
- Events and Ceremonies Unit - one (civilian)
- Communications Unit - two (civilians)
- Victim Services Unit - seven full-time, ten part-time (civilians)
- Citizens' Crime Watch - one (constable), approximately 100 volunteers
- Block Watch Unit - two (one civilian, one constable)
- Diversity - seven (one inspector, one sergeant, three constables and two civilians)
The figures below reflect the fact that 2009 is the first full year that budgets from already existing units, such as Victim Services, Block Watch, Citizens' Crime Watch, Business Liaison and Community Policing, have been transferred to Community & Public Affairs along with their staff and other costs.
The 2009 figure also includes the $1,000,000 flow-through of funds from the City for the community policing centres and the provincial grant for Victim Services of about $150,000.
The 2010 figure includes $591,882 for Diversity.
- 2010 $2,819,740
- 2009 $2,201,539
- 2008 $583,160
- 2007 $550,580
- 2006 $600,520
- 2005 $401,600