This month, Constable Darren Chua takes over the role of Neighbourhood Police Officer (NPO) for Surrey, Langley, North Delta and White Rock. Cst. Chua will be replacing Cst. Mike Woolley who will be joining the patrol division. We interviewed Cst. Chua to learn more about him.
Q: How is the role of an NPO different from that of a patrol police officer?
A: As a Transit Police patrol officer, I was mostly doing beat-style patrol, assisting frontline transit staff and conducting fare enforcement. My role was largely reactive, responding to calls for service. In my NPO role, I get to be more proactive. I get to build meaningful relationships in the community, identify persistent crime trends and then pull those two aspects together to reduce crime.
Q: How did you begin your policing career?
A: I studied Criminology at Kwantlen University and discovered my interest in policing. So, at the tender age of 20, I applied for the RCMP, but was understandably deferred due to lack of life experience. I then switched over to Law Enforcement Studies at the Justice Institute of BC and began working as a jail guard at the Surrey RCMP cell block. Eventually, I was hired by the RCMP and served with them in Northern Manitoba before joining Metro Vancouver Transit Police in 2016.
Q: What is a career highlight so far?
A: A highlight has definitely been an auto crime project I worked on with my former patrol partner, Cst. James Gibson. Vehicles were being broken into and stolen in the vicinity of the Scott Road SkyTrain Station. Through our efforts in partnership with area business owners and the Surrey RCMP, over 50 stolen vehicles were recovered and several prolific auto crime offenders were charged.
Q: What do you like to do during your time away from work?
A: I’ve been bitten by the travel bug! On my days off you’ll often find me researching new destinations to explore. I’m currently seeking a good deal (I love good deals) to Japan and Singapore.
Q: What is the last good movie you saw?
A:Crazy Rich Asians. It’s currently my favourite rom-com. The wedding scene was so over the top, it was amazing.
Q: What are you looking forward to about working in Surrey, Langley North Delta and White Rock?
A: I was born and raised in Surrey, and have seen my city undergo a lot of positive changes. I’m excited to become a part of the rapid growth and innovation that the southeast region of Metro Vancouver is experiencing and will continue to experience with upcoming large-scale projects like the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain. I’m looking forward to taking a hands-on, active role in reducing crime while these changes are underway. And also the large variety of restaurants that I’ll get to explore on my lunch breaks!
Join us for the 6th annual Metro Vancouver Transit Police Charity Golf Tournament in support of Special Olympics BC athletes. On Monday, June 3, enjoy a day of golf, while helping to create a world of inclusion where every person is accepted regardless of ability.
Your $125 registration fee includes lunch and a banquet dinner featuring a silent auction, raffles and prizes.
On November 21, at the Canadian Urban Transit Association Conference in Toronto, Metro Vancouver Transit Police Sergeant Wendy Hawthorne will receive the 2018 Leadership Award in Excellence to acknowledge the benefits our transit system has gained thanks to her specialized expertise in graffiti on transit. We caught up with Wendy for an interview before she heads off into retirement at the end of this year.
Q: What is your role at Metro Vancouver Transit Police?
A: I am one of the Client Services Sergeants, a “Jack of all trades and a master of some”. We work on addressing identified issues and concerns that are reported by patrol members, our partners in jurisdictional policing and within the community, and TransLink Stakeholders. I have been very lucky to specialize and develop an in-depth knowledge on graffiti, safety education, and Crime Prevention through Environmental Design reporting.
Q: When did you first start working for transit in Metro Vancouver?
A: I started with the Metro Transit Security Service in early 1984 as a Transit Security Officer. I worked the graveyard shifts at the Carrall Street Garage, at the Cambie Street Garage, and the False Creek Transit Centre. Our first office was above the tire shop at the rear of the Oakridge Transit Centre with 4 Mobile Patrol Investigators and 4 plainclothes security, which I was one of. We moved to 1296 Station Street, across from Main Street Station after the Skytrain opened and then to 307 Columbia Street in New West before moving to our current headquarters in Sapperton.
I never would have dreamt as I worked at Expo 86 as one of the original Metro Vancouver Transit Special Provincial Constables that 35 years later I would be retiring as a Sergeant with Transit Police, a recognized and respected armed police force and Canada’s only Transit Police.
Q: How would you describe your career path?
A: It has been an incredible journey of laughter, frustration, joy, pride and challenges. Community policing and crime prevention have always been my passion and I was fortunate to be assigned to the position of the Client Services Sergeant in May 2012. I could not be more proud of the fact that as I retire, my position has led to the creation and great success of the Neighbourhood Police Team.
Q: What is one highlight of your career?
A: A few years ago I was training a new bus operator class at Vancouver Transit Centre. After the class, one of the new operators called me aside. The operator said, “Wendy! Do you remember me?” I didn’t, but there was something familiar about her. She told me her first name….and I knew immediately who she was! As a youth she had been at extreme risk, deeply involved in vandalism on the transit system, and a prolific graffiti tagger whose graffiti was featured in the news, along with many other challenges.
I gave her a hug and said with tears in my eyes, “You Made It!”
She looked at me and said, “You and [a VPD Sergeant] saved my life!”
I had often wondered how her life had turned out. I told her that her success made my work worthwhile. To have someone who was so at risk overcome so many challenges and see the success that she had achieved filled me with gratitude and pride.
Q: Have you learned any important life lessons on the job?
The most integral qualities for this career are work ethic and integrity.
I never forgot where I have come from. Humility is a wonderful trait.
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Whether they continue to get my respect is up to them…. not me!
Never underestimate the power of a smile.
Q: If you won a free vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I would love to go to Hawaii in July 2019 with my husband and renew our vows on our 40th wedding anniversary.
Q: What book, movie and TV show would you recommend?
A: Book: The Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement Officers
Movie: A tie between “Shrek” and “The Man Who Would Be King”
TV Show: Little Britain
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: I reflect on my career with great joy and pride. I am so grateful for the relationships I have made and the reputation that I have earned. I am proud of our department and the success that we have seen and to recognize that I was one of the pioneers and ground breakers. It has been a great ride.
Written by Cst. Miles Teitelbaum, NPO for South Vancouver and Richmond, and participant in the Lower Lonsdale Community Patrol Partnership
I recently took on the role of Neighbourhood Police Officer (NPO) with the Metro Vancouver Transit Police, joining the program on temporary assignment in order to assist Cst. Bruce Shipley in the area of South Vancouver and Richmond, as well as support a new project in North Vancouver over the summer. Currently, Cst. Shipley is assisting vulnerable persons who use the transit system, keeping them safe. Prior to taking on the NPO assignment, I was a patrol officer on the west side for nine years.
One of the things I enjoy most about my current role is participating in the Lower Lonsdale (LoLo) Project. The program was launched thanks to the hard work of a fellow NPO, Cst. Kirk Rattray, and the pilot project brings together Transit Police NPOs and officers from the North Vancouver RCMP, who jointly patrol the Lower Lonsdale Quay neighbourhood. Each Friday and Saturday afternoon and evening this summer, you can find our team conducting beat-style policing, to make sure that everyone is enjoying the many vendors and businesses in the area in a safe manner. We engage with the public as we patrol, answering questions, giving safety tips and letting people know how Transit Police and the RCMP are working together to provide important safety reassurance to all attendees. During our shift, we make sure to stop by the SeaBus and patrol the nearby Phibbs Exchange bus loop, making ourselves available to both the public and transit employees for anything they might need.
The Lower Lonsdale area is always busy, and sometimes people get separated from their group. A really rewarding part of working on the Lolo Project is when I get to help reunite people who are lost from their family. I also enjoy it when people take the time to thank or acknowledge us for our service. It’s gratifying to see a small child’s face light up when they get a Transit Police or RCMP sticker.
It’s Bike to Work Week but did you know Metro Vancouver Transit Police Officers also conduct patrols using bikes at work? In 2017, Transit Police launched a Bike Program pilot project following an invitation to participate in cycle training with The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) Bike Team.
Building partnerships with local jurisdictional police is integral to our Neighbourhood Police Officer (NPO) Team and training together for a full week created strong and lasting relationships. However, the project’s main goal is to increase high police visibility in the Community Service Areas, defined in our Service Delivery Model.
What is Transit Police hoping to achieve?
Adding bike patrols into Transit Police’s regular ‘on the beat’ patrol schedule supports the objectives of the Transit Police Strategic Plan, including:
Reduce Crime and Disorder
Improve Feeling of Safety for Transit Customers and Staff
Improve Understanding of Needs of Transit Customers and Staff in Order to Care for and Keep Them Safe
Protect and Assist Vulnerable Persons
Engage in Innovative and Efficient Methods to Anticipate Transit Growth, Social Change and Regional Community Safety Issues
Becoming more mobile has enabled our police officers to patrol to a greater extent in the surrounding areas of SkyTrain Stations and Bus loops. This has increased police presence, given our officers greater opportunities to interact with the public and also improve community partnerships with local businesses.
Riding bikes in their CSA will also help the NPOs build on their connection with Transit Operators and the Transit Security Bike Patrol team.
By the end of the summer, a total of seven Transit Police Officers are set to be cycle trained.
Learn more about the Transit Police Bike Program this Friday
This Friday, June 1, NPO Cst. Julien Ponsioen will be at Robson Square from 3pm to 6pm. Stop by to register your bike with 529 Garage for free and let your child ride a Transit Police bike.
Our partners at 529 Garage allow you to register your bike along with thousands of fellow cyclists who can keep a watchful eye on your bike if you do experience a theft.
Children will also have the opportunity to ride a Transit Police bicycle (with flashing lights!) through a course that will give them a taste of the training our officers go through. So bring your child down to become a certified junior bicycle officer.
Join us for the 5th annual Metro Vancouver Transit Police Charity Golf Tournament in support of Special Olympics BC athletes. Enjoy a day of golf, while helping to create a world of inclusion where every person is accepted regardless of ability.
Your $125 registration fee includes lunch and a banquet dinner featuring a silent auction, raffles and prizes.
Support our BC Special Olympics athletes and the Polar Plunge!
Metro Vancouver Transit Police is a proud supporter of Special Olympics BC, since 2005 and has been dedicated to fundraising activities that benefit athletes with intellectual disabilities. This dedication to raising awareness through charitable fundraising events has seen Transit Police officers plunge into the freezing ocean, run up the hills of New Westminster, and putt a golf ball or two.
Every March, Transit Police staff plunge into the icy waters at Kitsilano Beach to raise money for Special Olympic athletes. The event raised over $100,000 last year alone! This is followed in May, when the Transit Police organizes a golf tournament sponsored by local businesses, and then in June as members participate in The Law Enforcement Torch Run through the streets of New Westminster.
The 2018 Polar Plunge takes place on Saturday, March 3, 10a.m at Kitsilano beach.
Written by Cst. Jenny Chung, NPO for North Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore, Belcarra, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and the West Coast Express in Mission.
As a Neighbourhood Police Officer (NPO) for what we call a “Hub Area” in the northeast of Metro Vancouver, which includes the Evergreen Extension and surrounding area, I’ve been a part of the surrounding community since its opening in December 2016. I still remember getting drenched on opening day, but barely noticing thanks to the enthusiasm of the people who came out to celebrate this incredible new community amenity.
With the opening of the Evergreen Extension came the opportunity for me to further build on our existing partnerships with the Port Moody Police and Coquitlam RCMP. As a result of my assignment to our Hub Area I’ve had the opportunity to engage with other community groups and agencies like ICBC, Douglas College, and local youth groups, as well as local area businesses and schools. Through my presence at the Lougheed and Coquitlam Centre bus loops I have been able to further strengthen relationships with transit operators who drive CMBC buses on routes in the Tri-Cities.
These new and enhanced relationships have created opportunities for refreshed public safety campaigns, such as focusing on pedestrian safety with ICBC, the Coquitlam RCMP and Port Moody Police in areas around SkyTrain stations. We’ve had great feedback from the public and I’ve really enjoyed the positive interactions.
One project I’m proud to have participated in was a joint response to an increase of shoplifting incidents in and around Coquitlam Centre Mall, adjacent to Lincoln Station on Evergreen. Some of the suspects who would steal from area businesses would use the SkyTrain as their means of transportation. I was able to work in partnership with the Coquitlam RCMP, Loss Prevention Officers and my fellow MVTP colleagues to develop a strategy for prevention and enforcement. As a result of our joint policing and security collaboration, we have been able to identify and apprehend several prolific shoplifters, reduce these crimes, and make the transit system safer for our customers and the communities we serve.
One of my favourite things about my job is when I get to engage with the public – I am able to meet new people and get paid for it!
As a Neighbourhood Police Officer (NPO), I received information from Metrotown Mall security and also another Transit Police Officer that one particular youth who is well known to Transit Police had returned to the Lower Mainland. This youth was seen with his younger cousin who aspired to be like him according to the younger cousin’s Probation Officer. These two quickly became involved in crime around SkyTrain Stations with other associates also known to Transit Police.
My concern for public safety and the future of these young men prompted me to host a meeting at Transit Police HQ bringing attention to other police agencies about the youth’s activities. Representatives from VPD Youth Squad, New Westminster Police, Coquitlam RCMP Robbery Section, Transit Police Crime Reduction Unit (CRU), and Provincial Tactical Enforcement Priority Unit (PTEP) all attended. The discussion focused on the youths’ background, recent offences, and potential for new offences. The attendees thought the meeting to be very valuable.
The youth who was the subject of that meeting was arrested shortly after, and his interactions with Transit Police briefly ceased. However, the story doesn’t end there as a number of his recent associates were suspects in cellphone robberies around Metrotown Mall and Station. There appeared to be a trend in cellphone robberies around Metrotown with at least 15 personal robberies occurring since January 2017 to the end of March according to Burnaby RCMP.
I worked with another Transit Police officer and we were able to identify nearly all the robbery suspects. Together we took the lead in identifying suspects for Burnaby RCMP and preparing police statements for their Reports to Crown Counsel. In cases where a suspect was not known, I used my police, probation and community connections to identify witnesses who could identify them.
In Mid-March I arranged a meeting between Burnaby Strike Force, their crime analyst, myself, and my Transit Police colleague. At this meeting I recommended a Joint Forces Operation between our organizations. In just one week a Joint Operations project was approved. I put the Burnaby Strike Force Corporal in touch with our Crime Reduction Unit sergeant and a Joint Forces Operation was planned.
The two youths I prioritized in my January meeting were arrested. This arrest subsequently led to evidence of a recent robbery in Richmond and a fraud in Vancouver. To date there have been no cellphone robberies around Metrotown or near the neighboring Patterson and Royal Oak Stations since their arrest.