The Vancouver Police Department has a number of youth outreach programs that encourage good citizenship and provide an alternative to involvement in crime, gangs and drugs.
Outreach programs involve VPD officers from the Youth Services Section, Diversity, Community & Indigenous Relations Section, and front line officers, as well as our community partners.
Access Recreation and Culture Youth Program (ARC)
ARC is a mentorship program for Indigenous youth who want to pursue a career in the criminal justice system. This program utilizes recreation and Indigenous culture to build resilience in youth participants and to assist them in obtaining their career goals. This initiative is made possible by the Vancouver Police Foundation and the BC Civil Forfeiture Office.
Connect a Cop
Members of the Community Response Unit, and our Ministry of Children and Family Development partners, including social workers, and youth probation officers, participate in the Share a Meal program to help at-risk youth. The teams offer food vouchers, provided by the Vancouver Police Foundation, to share both a meal and a conversation.
This event brings together professional athletes, UBC Thunderbird alumni, police officers, and at-risk youth to play flag football. Following the games, athletes give strategic talks, and former gang members discuss the myths and realities of gang life. The goal is to show students the consequences of poor choices, and to build bridges with kids who rarely talk to police or participate in school activities.
Here4Peers is a youth-driven initiative, involving teams of specially trained high school students giving interactive workshops on mental health awareness to Vancouver School Board Grade 7 students. The goal is to increase awareness of coping tools, improve access to resources, and reduce the stigma of mental health issues.
Indigenous Cadet Program
Each summer, the VPD runs the Indigenous Cadet Program. Cadets, aged 19 to 29, have Aboriginal ancestry, and spend time working in the Department’s fleet services, and other sections. The hope is that cadets may one day become VPD officers. The program is funded by the Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS).
This award-winning program promotes the social inclusion of young people from the Downtown Eastside. Naskarz participants learn automotive skills by restoring old vehicles, and take part in social and educational opportunities.
New Kids Vancouver: Youth Police Academy
High school is tough enough — especially in a new country, with a new language and social customs. These vulnerabilities can sometimes put teen refugees and immigrants on the wrong path. The Diversity, Community, & Indigenous Relations Section and the Vancouver School Board, with funding from the Vancouver Police Foundation, developed a program to help kids navigate through this difficult transition.
The program focuses on educating and creating awareness around law enforcement through peer and police mentorship to prevent the risk of gang recruitment or criminal involvement, or kids falling victim to bullying or harassment.
In sharing their experiences with other youth like themselves, newcomers and refugee youth are given a chance to form positive relationships with police and peers in the program, and to develop a sense of identity and belonging.
The program unites youth through fun and engaging experiences that promote social justice, healthy lifestyles, positive issues of identity, integration and adaptation, along with preventing bullying and violence. The NewKids Program is more than just a program for these youth: it is a life-changing experience.
Night Hoops Basketball
At-risk youth are offered a chance to grow and learn in a supervised and supportive environment, taking part in late-night basketball programming. VPD officers volunteer to participate in the games and mentor the youth. The Vancouver Police Foundation funds the program.
Project Breakaway is a ball hockey initiative developed for Grade 10 to 12 students at David Thompson Secondary School. Practice drills, exercises, and scrimmages take place twice a month at the Sunset Community Centre, fostering positive police-youth relationships. At-risk youth engage with police officers through sport, allowing students to build self-esteem, maintain motivation for a healthy lifestyle, and encourage involvement in community activities.
This annual event includes about 200 kids from four elementary schools taking part in a sports day in June. They learn about healthy lifestyle choices, while having fun and interacting with police officers.
Pulling Together Canoe Journey
The Pulling Together Canoe Journey is a program that aims to eliminate prejudice and stereotypes between government agencies, including the VPD, and Indigenous Peoples. The annual summer canoe journey aims to recognize the past and enhance understanding by having participants “pulling together” along traditional highways, strengthening future relationships.
RestART is a partnership between the VPD, the City of Vancouver, and the Grandview-Woodland Community Policing Centre. It brings together police with artistic kids who have been involved in criminal activity. They learn about restorative justice, and skills to help them be successful with future goals. Artwork created by the RestART participants can be seen wrapping electrical boxes throughout the city.
Safety City educates elementary school kids about road safety. They learn the rules of the road through in-class and hands-on learning. Officers set up an interactive display of a mini city, complete with kid-sized roads and traffic signs, and the kids safely navigate the “city” as pedestrians, cyclists, and even drivers.
The Ross Council
This initiative began after parents approached the Khalsa Diwan Society Community Policing Centre with concerns about some of the activities their children were involved in. Constable Terry Parmar works with at-risk boys, running a homework club and community events like food drives and clean-ups, as well as preparing for the annual Vaisakhi Parade.
This anti-gang program provides education and strong alternative choices for at-risk youth who are vulnerable to becoming involved in the drug trade or gangs. Students are given real-life examples of how drugs and gang life can negatively impact their lives.
Vancouver Police Athletic League (PAL)
This youth crime prevention initiative uses athletic, recreational, and educational programs to foster positive rapport and mutual trust between police officers and youths. Current VPD Police Athletic League activities throughout Vancouver include basketball games, soccer camps, running clubs, and rugby camps.
Vancouver Police Basketball Association
The VPD Basketball Association has been active in the community since the 1950s. VPD players promote teamwork, sportsmanship, physical fitness, and fun.
As part of the VPD Police Athletic League, the Association participates in dozens of community-based games throughout Vancouver every year.
These events help to foster a positive relationship between police officers and youth, and include weekly lunch-hour games at local elementary schools, the BC Wheelchair Basketball Hoopfest, the Strathcona Hoop-A-Thon, and the Night Hoops program.
Every December, a 16-team high school senior basketball tournament is held, with approximately 240 students competing in 26 games over three days in Vancouver. Thanks to generous community partners, 57 graduating high school seniors have been giving scholarships — a total of $28,500 toward post-secondary education in recognition of outstanding academic achievement.
Gil Puder Community Award
Constable Gil Puder was an 18-year veteran of the VPD when he passed away from cancer on November 12, 1999. During his career, he patrolled the Downtown Eastside on foot, and he was a use-of-force instructor at the Justice Institute of B.C., and a member of the VPD’s Emergency Response Team.
Gil was known for his smooth jumpshot from 20 feet, his aggressive slashes to the hoop, and his tenacious rebounding, but he is best remembered for his outstanding commitment to the community.
To honour Gil’s dedication to the community, a $500 scholarship, provided by the Vancouver Police Union, is awarded annually to a graduating senior at the VPD Winter Invitational. The recipient is awarded this scholarship based on the values and attributes Gil possessed:
- exemplifying the meaning of student-athlete
- demonstrating outstanding performance in the classroom
- acknowledged by coaches as a leader on the basketball court
- demonstrating commitment to his community through volunteer work
The VPD Basketball Association also has competitive basketball teams, both men’s and women’s. These teams have played in competitive leagues locally, tournaments throughout North America, and the World Police Fire Games.
VPD Cadet Program
Being a teenager in today’s world isn’t easy. Teens have to constantly make decisions that could affect them their entire lives – and sometimes it may be difficult figuring out which way to turn. The VPD Cadet Program is a year-long mentorship program aimed at helping youth build the skills necessary to handle conflict and become a leader in their community. The program is funded by the Vancouver Police Foundation.
VPD Musqueam Basketball Camp
Since 2010, this camp has been held at the Musqueam Reserve, enhancing the positive work by the VPD and fostering the relationship, understanding, and trust we have with the Musqueam community.
Windermere Run Club
This club provides a supportive and welcoming running environment for Grade 8 to 12 students at Windemere Secondary School. Led by VPD officers, the kids learn to overcome personal challenges, as they develop positive relationships with VPD officers. The Vancouver Police Foundation funds the club.
This annual day-long symposium is designed to give high school students a forum to discuss trends, such as consent, diversity, healthy relationships, personal safety, and safe dating.