Transit Police taking steps to address Metro Vancouver gang violence

Metro Vancouver Transit Police, alongside all other police agencies in the Lower Mainland, is working in partnership with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit BC to end the recent gang violence that has gripped Metro Vancouver. A transit system that covers over 1800km2 means that our resources need to be deployed strategically to ensure that everyone stays safe. This requires a multi-prong approach with a variety of units playing a role in preventing further violence.

Transit Police has loaned out several officers to assist in the coordinated effort to end the recent wave of gun violence. We currently have officers working with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, the Vancouver Police Gang Crime Unit, the Real Time Intelligence Centre BC and performing open source data reports with the Delta Police Homicide Unit.     

Over the last few months, Transit Police officers have taken several, in some cases loaded, firearms off the streets. All Transit Police dogs have now been cross trained to quickly detect odours related to firearms and ammunition , allowing us to quickly and efficiently gather evidence. Following the recent arrest of an alleged gang member, Transit Police Dog Kona conducted a search of the suspect’s vehicle to check for any additional firearms concealed inside.

The Transit Police Crime Suppression Team (CST) was created recently to bring a intelligence-led and targeted approach to fighting crime on and around the transit system. Working closely with our jurisdictional policing partners and other units within Transit Police, CST leads the way in addressing the crime trends that pose the biggest threats to safety.

During this time, it’s understandable that parents and guardians may be worried about gang influences on their children. Transit Police, in partnership with Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing & the Vancouver Police Department Diversity, Inclusion & Indigenous Relations section, is proud to offer the Blue Eagle Community Cadet program to provide leadership skills to youth ages 12-15, while they explore Indigenous culture and policing. The programs offers a supportive environment where kids can build the skills and self-confidence to keep themselves safe.

Asian Heritage Month at Transit Police

The month of May has been Asian Heritage Month in Canada. This year, it took on an extra meaning for us as a police department tasked with keeping people on transit safe in the midst of fears at rising anti-Asian sentiments. Everyone deserves to ride on transit feeling safe and, sadly, that hasn’t been the case for many people of Asian heritage recently. That is of great concern to all of us at Transit Police, but perhaps more so to the many officers who themselves are of Asian heritage. We spoke to four of them.

Constable Darren Chua has participated in several of the pop-up safety events hosted by Transit Police at SkyTrain stations with a large Asian demographic. “As a person with Chinese heritage, it’s important for me to engage with the Asian community,” he says. “Historically there’s been distrust in the police, resulting in community members often not being forthcoming in reporting crimes.” He’s working hard to change that perception.

Constable Clint Hervias has a history of assisting vulnerable people in the Filipino Community “I call Canada home now, but grew up in Africa,” says Cst. Hervias who is of Filipino heritage. “It doesn’t matter where in the world you come from, everyone just wants to feel safe in their daily life. I’m proud to play a role in providing that safety for people while they travel on transit in Metro Vancouver.”  

Constable Jenny Chung has worked closely with the Korean community, of which she is a member, for many years. “I speak with newcomers to Canada to let them know that Transit Police officers are always here to help them if they don’t feel safe on transit,” she says. “It’s been my experience that sometimes people worry that they are ‘bothering’ the police or that it will get them unwanted attention from us, but that’s not the case in Canada. If someone doesn’t feel safe, we are here to help, and we want them to report it.”  

“As a Chinese man who grew up in China and immigrated to Canada in his 30s, I have personally experienced the difficulties adapting to a new culture and a new country,” says Constable Junjie Hu. His message is clear. “Given the current anti-Asian environment, every single one of us has a role to play. Stand up for yourself and others. Voice your concerns and report every incident involving racism, hatred, harassment or bullying. There is no room for any hatred or racism in Canada”

Racism and hate have no place on the transit system, and will not be tolerated. Anyone who experiences or witnesses harassment or threatening behaviour while on transit should report it to Transit Police. Call 604.515.8300 or text 87.77.77 (always call 911 in an emergency).  If you are worried about your safety or the safety of a loved one, our transit safety tips might be helpful.

Joint statement from Lower Mainland police Chiefs and Commanders

Police in British Columbia share the concerns that the public have as a result of recent gang-related violence in communities across the Lower Mainland.

Senior police leaders in British Columbia met yesterday with Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth to discuss the current gang landscape and share their collective and unified strategies.

Led by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC), in partnership and collaboration with the RCMP and all municipal police agencies, there is an intelligence-led enforcement effort underway. This includes enhanced overt and covert operations, proactive enforcement targeting those who pose the highest risk to public safety, increased focus on personally interacting with those involved in gangs, and ensuring that those who engage in, assist, or support gang-related violence are held accountable.

The partnerships and level of integration that police in the region have is unprecedented. From the sharing of real-time intelligence so officers of all jurisdictions are informed of the most up-to-date information, to specialized teams working together with officers from neighbouring agencies because gang members do not recognize municipal boundaries. Police are working together and are unified in their resolve to end gang violence.

The disregard for the safety of the public and the police that gang members continually show, highlighted by recent events, is unacceptable and we are doing everything we can to hold those responsible accountable. 

Your safety is our number one priority and we will not waver in our relentless pursuit to prevent, disrupt, suppress, and investigate those who choose to involve themselves in gang and organized crime activities.

The public’s role in how successful we are in this fight cannot be understated. Your willingness to call police when you see something suspicious, or have information, could be critical in helping prevent someone from getting hurt or assist us in collecting crucial pieces of evidence. We want your help.

Lastly, to the gang members, we know many of you are afraid, unsure who to trust, and fearful that you might be targeted next. You have an opportunity to get out. Contact police before it is too late for you and those who love you.

Chief Constable Mike Serr – Abbotsford Police Department
Assistant Commissioner Manny Mann – Officer in Charge of CFSEU-BC and Chief Officer of the Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia
Chief Constable Neil Dubord – Delta Police Department
Chief Officer Dave Jones – Metro Vancouver Transit Police
Chief Constable Dave Jansen – New Westminster Police Department
Chief Constable Dave Fleugel – Port Moody Police Department
Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan – Commanding Officer for BC RCMP
Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald – Officer in Charge of the RCMP’s Federal, Investigative Services and Organized Crime for BC
Assistant Commissioner Eric Stubbs – BC RCMP Criminal Operations Officer – Core Policing 
Assistant Commissioner Maureen Levy – Lower Mainland District RCMP Commander
Chief Constable Adam Palmer – Vancouver Police Department
Chief Constable John Lo – West Vancouver Police Department

Constable Bruce Shipley ensures that vulnerable people on transit stay safe

Helping vulnerable people in crisis is a Metro Vancouver Transit Police priority*, and Constable Bruce Shipley plays a key role in helping us deliver on this commitment. In his role as Homeless Outreach Officer, Cst. Shipley works to ensure that people who are homeless remain safe while they’re on transit.

“Experiencing homelessness is not a crime and it’s not a choice, so my goal in all interactions is to make sure that people on transit who find themselves in this situation feel supported,” says Cst. Shipley. “They are human and so are those of us who wear the Transit Police uniform. There is a real need and desire to connect and help. I want my actions to show that just because someone may be afflicted by homelessness, drug addiction, mental health challenges, or be vulnerable in another way, Transit Police officers are here to help, not judge.”

Cst. Shipley works tirelessly to gather essentials like socks, blankets and food through donations from community partners and the generosity of his colleagues at Transit Police. He ensures that patrol officers have these essential resources in their vehicles, so they can distribute them to people in need. Officers can sometimes connect those in need with social service or healthcare resources, but often the process of getting someone meaningful support requires a deeper amount of effort. That’s where Cst. Shipley steps in with his arsenal of community connections, his reputation within the homeless community, and his unwavering compassion.

“At Transit Police we take a Community Policing approach to the job,” says Cst. Shipley. “Which means that we are a part of the community we serve, and our role is to keep everyone safe. Sometimes that means we focus on enforcement, but other times it’s just a matter of investing time in people and building the connections and trust that ensures everyone feels looked after.”     

“Nobody should ever feel that they have been discarded by society,” he says. “Everyone deserves to live with dignity, and it’s rewarding when I’m able to play a role in that. I recently received a direct message on Twitter from someone whom I had helped provide with shelter and detox services, who said that I had saved his life. That was pretty cool.”   

Follow Cst. Bruce Shipley on Twitter

*Metro Vancouver Transit Police has four operational priorities: helping vulnerable people in crisis, reducing sexual offences, reducing frontline workplace assaults and building system resiliency. Read more about our priorities.