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Chief touts unarmed peace officer program

By Tyler Orton, 24 Hours Vancouver

Vancouver Police Department chief Jim Chu (FILE PHOTO)

Vancouver Police Department chief Jim Chu (FILE PHOTO)

Vancouver’s police chief is asking city council to consider a $6.5-million pilot project that would employ unarmed peace officers to take over less complex and low-risk tasks from regular officers.

Chief Const. Jim Chu said the 40 “community safety personnel” — half of whom would work full-time — would not serve as replacements for 57 officer vacancies.

Instead, the program, which the Vancouver Police Department is looking to implement by April 2013 would allow regular officers to concentrate on more frontline duties, since they could hand off less serious calls to the unarmed personnel.

Although the VPD still needs to define all the duties the community safety personnel would assume, Chu pointed to noise complaints as one possibility.

Mayor Gregor Robertson, who chairs the Vancouver Police Board, said that organization unanimously supported the “innovative” program. He added council would consider it in the city budget package in the weeks ahead.


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