National Indigenous Peoples Day at Transit Police

by Sergeant Cheryl Simpkin, Community Engagement Team

June 21, 2021 is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. Metro Vancouver Transit Police celebrate the four Transit Police officers who have Indigenous heritage and the Indigenous people in the communities we serve.

We recognize Canada’s movement toward truth and reconciliation and embrace the cultures of urban and traditional peoples in the communities throughout Metro Vancouver, the province of BC and Canada, we celebrate the beautiful cultures, traditions and protocols that strengthen and support Indigenous Peoples.

Metro Vancouver Transit Police is committed to developing and strengthening our relationship with the community we serve. The 2020 Strengthening Transit Police Support to Indigenous Peoples report has been a guiding report to focus our department through some exciting changes that even a global pandemic couldn’t slow down. Several new initiatives were launched in the last year.

Constable Kirk Rattray took on the role of Indigenous Liaison Officer. Drawing on his Tahltan First Nation heritage and his nearly 30 years in policing, Cst. Rattray works to create partnerships between Indigenous communities and police. He ensures our department upholds a high standard of cultural awareness when investigating crimes where a participant is Indigenous, and provides guidance on issues that may affect Indigenous peoples. He also educated police recruits from across the Province on cultural awareness at the Justice Institute of BC.

In the summer, we unveiled our Indigenous Art Piece. Created specifically for Transit Police by First Nations artist Christine Mackenzie, the artwork serves as a visual representation of our commitment to strengthening relationships with Indigenous communities. It tells the story of our department through its elements and will serve as the basis for a logo to be added to our vehicles.

The Blue Eagle Community Cadets program launched earlier this year. Under the leadership of Cst. Rattray, in partnership with Vancouver Police Department’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenous Relations Section and the Aboriginal Policing Centre, the program gives kids between the ages of 12 and 15 the opportunity to build leadership skills while immersed in Indigenous culture and protocols.

On National Indigenous Peoples Day, we celebrate the rich and diverse cultures of Indigenous, Inuit and Métis peoples, while we focus on the work that still to be done on the path to reconciliation.

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.

Community Policing Centre opens at Waterfront

On Tuesday, February 2, Metro Vancouver Transit Police will open its first Community Policing Centre (CPC), at Waterfront Station. Staffed by volunteers, the CPC will work in partnership with Transit Police, Vancouver Police, and TransLink frontline staff to help ensure safety in and around Waterfront Station, and the surrounding neighbourhood. The CPC will be based in the current Transit Police office at Waterfront Station, located just across from the A&W.

Volunteers will be working Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from noon until 5pm. Eventually, once COVID restrictions are lifted, the plan is for the CPC office to be open to the public during these times. Until then, volunteers will focus on assisting the public through proactive patrols and joint projects with policing and community partners.

The first Metro Vancouver Transit Police CPC was only made possible due to the generous contributions from community sponsors. DS Tactical, the premier police clothing and equipment supplier, is providing uniforms for the volunteers. The volunteers’ branded clothing will make them easily identifiable while keeping them protected from the elements thanks to DS Tactical. Meanwhile, EasyPark, known for providing safe, clean, friendly, convenient and affordable parking to the Greater Vancouver community, has provided tablets for the volunteers to use during their patrols. Tablets will allow volunteers to quickly retrieve information as they assist the public and vulnerable people in our community thanks to EasyPark. In addition, our valued partners at ICBC have been generous in their support, and we look forward to many collaborations with them on various safety campaigns.

Learn more:

Follow the WCPC on Twitter or Instagram

Movember at Metro Vancouver Transit Police

Led by Transit Police dog Strider, members of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police are growing facial hair this month for Movember, a charity that supports men’s health.

As a Deutsch Drahthaar, the first of his breed to be working for a Canadian police agency, Strider has an enviable mustache that has set a high bar for the rest of the Transit Police Movember Team. Strider’s breed was first developed in the 19th Century as a hunting dog, which is a trait that has been tailored to detect explosive odour. Strider joins the rest of the Transit Police dogs in keeping the transit system safe.

Movember funds projects that aim to prevent premature death among men due to reasons related to suicide, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Since Transit Police has an operational priority of helping vulnerable people in crisis, Movember Foundation’s focus on tackling mental health challenges is something our department is proud to support.  

Support Strider and Cst. Daniel Campagne

Support D Watch Transit Police officers

Constable Gwen Ranquist helps vulnerable people use transit safely

Photo of Constable Gwen Ranquist

Helping vulnerable people in crisis is a Metro Vancouver Transit Police priority*, and Constable Gwen Ranquist plays a key role in helping us deliver on this commitment. As our department’s Client Services Officer, she works to ensure that transit passengers who are affected by mental health challenges receive the support they need to use transit safely.

“I have seen how police response to the mentally ill in our communities has changed from a criminal approach to a medical and solution based approach” says Cst. Ranquist, who has worked in policing since the early 1980s. “There are many people riding the transit system with mental illness that come in contact with our officers. My goal is to seek opportunities to provide assistance through the community and not the criminal justice system, unless it is necessary.”

Cst. Ranquist offers support and mentoring to Transit Police officers, to ensure they have the skills and resources to provide effective help. She manages files where there are repeated calls to police regarding the same individual, and creates solution-oriented policing strategies by working together with a variety of healthcare and community outreach partners to assist those people at their point of need.

“It is important that people who need help be connected with the support they require to live with stability and care within the community,” says Cst. Ranquist. “I would like to see that the Metro Vancouver Transit Police officers and Client Services bridge that gap between clients, health authorities and our jurisdictional partners.”

Follow Cst. Gwen Ranquist 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.

Note: this video was created before COVID-19

Meet the MVTP Community Engagement Team

Community policing is at the heart of everything we do at Metro Vancouver Transit Police (MVTP). Our approach is exemplified by the Community Engagement Team (CET). Each member of the team has a unique combination of skills and life experience that allow them to connect with the communities they serve. Last week, the CET welcomed two new members.

Constable Shiraaz Hanif joined the team as the Neighbourhood Police Officer (NPO) for East Vancouver and the North Shore. Cst. Hanif is no stranger to building relationships on behalf of our department, having spent years working to strengthen the relationship between MVTP and the Muslim Community (of which he is a member). He takes over the NPO role from Cst. Kirk Rattray, who moved into the role of Indigenous Liaison Officer. Follow Cst. Hanif on Twitter.

Constable Miles Teitelbaum joined the team as the NPO for New Westminster and South Burnaby. Cst. Teitelbaum previously worked on the CET in a temporary role that included participating in the Lower Lonsdale Project. Cst. Teitelbaum is taking over the NPO role from Cst. Justin Biggs. Follow Cst. Teitelbaum on Twitter and Instagram.

The two new members join seven other Transit Police officers that round out the team.

Sergeant Cheryl Simpkin heads the Community Engagement Team. She is influenced in her work by her Indigenous heritage and background in working with people who are affected by challenges with mental health or addiction. Follow Sgt. Simpkin on Twitter.

Constable Kirk Rattray is the MVTP Indigenous Liaison Officer. He draws on his Tahltan First Nation heritage to bring understanding between police and indigenous people in the region MVTP serves. In addition to building relationships with Indigenous communities, Cst. Rattray provides training for Transit Police officers and direction for our department on Indigenous issues. Follow Cst. Rattray on Twitter.

Constable Gwen Ranquist works in Client Services, providing expertise in issues related to mental health. Vulnerable people rely on the transit system to get them where they need to go and Cst. Ranquist is there to ensure they can do so safely. Follow Cst. Ranquist on Twitter.

Constable Julien Ponsioen is the NPO for downtown Vancouver. A former paramedic, he ensures that every Transit Police officer and civilian employee is trained on how to administer Naloxone. He also serves as the department’s liaison to the LGBTQ2S+ community of which he is a part. If you’re interested in learning more about the upcoming launch of our first Community Policing Centre, follow Cst. Ponsioen on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Constable Bruce Shipley is the NPO for Richmond and Vancouver’s West Side. With an interest in the issues that affect vulnerable people, such as those who are homeless, Cst. Shipley is on the frontlines offering outreach and resources. Follow Cst. Shipley on Twitter.

Constable Darren Chua is the NPO for Surrey and Langley. Currently, however, he is on temporary assignment working as part of the Integrated Quarantine Act Response and Support Team (IQARAS), ensuring that the Province’s Covid regulations are being followed. The rest of the CET is looking after Cst. Chua’s area in his absence. Follow Cst. Chua on Twitter and Instagram.

Constable Nicole Dennis is the NPO responsible for municipalities that stretch from North Burnaby to the West Coast Express Station in Mission, including the Tri-Cities, Belcarra, Anmore, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. A certified Drug Recognition Expert, Cst. Dennis focuses on traffic and pedestrian safety around transit hubs. This year, Cst. Dennis joined with other first responders to raise money for the fight against childhood cancer as a Cops for Cancer: Tour de Coast participant. Follow Cst. Dennis on Twitter.

Unveiling the MVTP Indigenous Art Piece

We are proud to unveil the Metro Vancouver Transit Police (MVTP) original Indigenous Art Piece that was created for our department by First Nations artist Christine Mackenzie. The artwork was commissioned by MVTP Chief Dave Jones as a visual representation of our commitment to strengthening relationships with Indigenous communities. The original art piece will be used as the basis for a logo that will appear as part of the MVTP brand, appearing as part of the design on our vehicles.

Christine Mackenzie was chosen to create the art piece not only due to her obvious artistic talent, but also because of the work she does to help educate others about the history and contemporary issues that affect Indigenous and First Nations peoples. Her work with school districts, and organizations that focus on at-risk and vulnerable people, helps to facilitate dialogue and a movement toward reconciliation. She was the natural choice to bring the MVTP’s vision into art form.

Christine’s art piece is a representation of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police safely transporting and linking communities through fair and impartial policing practices. Our approach is based on education and respect along with cultural awareness and commitment to communication. The empty canoe represents our multicultural and inclusive invitation for all peoples. The canoe represents protection and was traditionally used to support communities, transport food and supplies, trade and barter, and to socialize and expand families.  The water below the canoe is a visual image capturing the honor of the eagle feather whilst moving through the water. The feather brings pride and respect to the waters for which we are all connected. The traditional value of the medicine wheel is supported by the number four. The four directions of health, the four stages of life, the four seasons, the four animals (two land and two air creatures) and the four stages of mind. There are four feathers represented here, a Split U, eagle wings, and the feather splashes against the canoe. The Transit police support people at all stages of life from babies to children, adults to elders. We support people from all cultures and in all four seasons. The north West Coast line art design is depicted in the wonderful use of the Split U, Split S and T shapes. The center piece of the two hands open and gifting one feather is how the Transit Police are committed to connecting communities through offering of support and protection. It acknowledges that we work in the community with respect and appreciation. The traditional police stripe is a focus of pride in working within 22 communities and working together with cultural sensitivity and awareness.  We are committed to being open and welcoming in our engagement and working together with all Nations and cultures with mutual respect.  

In recent years, MVTP has made an ongoing effort to strengthen relationships between Indigenous communities and police. We are guided by our Strengthening Support for Indigenous Peoples report, which reviewed other significant reports concerning the relationship between police and Indigenous peoples in Canada, including the Thunder Bay Police Services Board Investigation final report, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. It put forward a number of recommended actions for Transit Police. The Indigenous artwork commissioned is one action undertaken since the report was released to further strengthen the relationship between Transit Police and Indigenous peoples who live in the region we serve. Earlier this year, we were pleased to welcome Constable Kirk Rattray into the position of Indigenous Liaison Officer.

Our Indigenous Art Piece unveiling and awakening event can be seen on Facebook