VPD Chief Jim Chu swears in his last recruits before retirement

Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, New recruits
Chief Chu reads the oath of service to eight new recruits Constables left to right: Desiree Craig, Victoria Dickinson, Arnut “Bert” Gongsriwatanapon, Bethany Jervis, Christine Joseph, Jeannie Kwan, Tiffany Tan, Brandon Yip

This morning, Vancouver's outgoing police chief Jim Chu presided over the swear-in ceremony of eight new recruits to the department. Chu told the crowd gathered at police headquarters this would be the last group of new officers to join under his leadership.

Chu, a 36-year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department, has been in the top job at the VPD since August of 2007. He joined the force in 1979 and was assigned to posts as a patrol constable, School Liaison officer, and in the planning department. He was promoted to corporal in 1989 and again to detective in 1990. 

Chu is the first Chinese Canadian Chief of the Vancouver police department and a former President of the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs. 

He and his wife Vicki, a retired Vancouver police officer, have four adult children and Chu's downtime is spent playing "old-timers" hockey, a passion he plans to continue on his retirement. 

Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, New recruits

Police Chief Chu and Vancouver Police Department's top-brass led in to oath ceremony
Recruit Constable Victoria Dickinson said today's oath is the first step in her policing career and the culmination of a "long challenging process," toward her goal of seeing social realities at play on city streets. 

Dickinson, a graduate of Dalhousie University with a master's degree in biomedical engineering, said her decision to join the police force came after witnessing interactions between police and the public while she volunteered at the Union Gospel Mission in the Downtown Eastside. 

"I was blown away by their professionalism. They demonstrated such empathy in challenging situations when they showed up at our door,"  she said.

Next for the recruits is a vigorous training program meant to prepare them for active duty. 

New chief Adam Palmer was in attendance but did not speak to the crowd. Palmer, a 28-year law enforcement veteran, was selected for the job in a unanimous decision by the Vancouver Police Board. The transition date has yet to be announced.
Under Chu, the VPD adopted a public safety policing model toward drugs and drug users. According to spokesperson Constable Brian Montague, this will continue under new leadership.

Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, New recruits

 A piper leads the procession of Vancouver Police Department officers

"We have to prioritize our resources," said Montague. "Our priority is the violent drug dealers." He said there are no set rules that define why or how the VPD will execute a search warrant on a business, but they have received a few calls from members of the public complaining about everything from alleged marijuana sales and underage customers to fire-code violations at storefront operations. 

"Some individuals running these businesses have no interest in providing a medical service. They do it strictly for financial gain," he said when asked about the increased numbers of dispensaries in the city. 

Montague added the VPD has exercised the enforcement option with seven warrants executed at dispensaries and 18 charges 
recommended. Thus far, none of these charges have been brought before the court.

When asked about the perceived dangers presented by alcohol and marijuana, Constable Montague said "alcohol more often leads to violence." He noted there were no reported incidents of violence at Monday's 420 demonstration but police will have keen eyes on alcohol-fueled hockey fans tonight after a video of fights between Canucks and Flames fans outside a Rogers Arena washroom emerged online. 

Constable Brian Montague told the Vancouver Observer that alcohol-fuelled fights is a concern for the police department and they will have a visible presence in the crowd at tonight's game.

When asked about tabled regulations for marijuana businesses, Montague noted the city is in charge of the licensing of businesses and the VPD will monitor the actions of marijuana dispensaries with an eye on public safety rather than prohibition enforcement. 

Eden Medicinal Society, which operates four dispensaries in Vancouver and one in Montreal, reacted positively to news of regulation.

"Our initial analysis is that this is a step in the right direction," Eden's communications liaison Micheal Dubuc said.

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