Homeless in Vancouver: To serve and protect...even us

As I was arriving and locking up my bicycle and trailer to get a snack at the South Granville McDonald's, two Vancouver Police Department cruisers were just leaving.

I photographed the lead police car, a new-issue Dodge Charger.

The second was a VPD “ghost car”, one of the old fleet of Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors.

VDP chose Chargers over Nissans Acquitters—more legroom 

The “Crown Vic” is the most widely used vehicle by law enforcement agencies in both Canada and the United States.

Ford began making the beefed-up version of its civilian Crown Victoria in 1992 and finally ceased production in 2011.

The last "CVPI, P71" produced was destined for Saudi Arabia.

Many police departments across North America responded to the discontinuation by stockpiling parts so they could continue to use the dependable Crown Vics well into the foreseeable future.

Nearly a year ago, the Vancouver Police Department announced that it had decided to replace its entire fleet of 176 Crown Victoria Interceptors with Dodge Chargers.

The VPD expects the changeover to take about four years and anticipates the new fleet of Chargers will use 25 percent less fuel and emit 32 percent less pollution.

The new cruisers feature all the mod-cons including an idle-management program that runs the emergency lights and sirens but keeps engine idling down to a minimum, perfectly in keeping with Vancouver’s ambition to be an “idle-free city”.

And because today’s Vancouver drivers will stop for a coffee or to give each other the bird but many will not pull over to let emergency vehicle pass—possibly because they’re cocooned in their own beat box—the new VPD cruisers come equipped with a “rumbler” siren, which projects a deep baritone burst to “further gain attention at those critical moments”.

What the "F" was the emergency?

Oh right. The police were at the McDonald’s responding to a call about a fellow pushing and shoving a homeless person.

The homeless person in question—a McDonald’s manager pointed him out to me—is always so harmless and quiet (“studious” comes to mind).

I couldn’t imagine how he could cause offence, besides simply being a homeless person, which can be enough these days.

This fellow never talks and ceaselessly collects and cashes in bottles at whatever supermarket or liquor store he can.

Up and down West and East Broadway he goes. He appears to do this until he has enough money to buy a senior’s coffee at McDonald's, which he drinks while he reads and underlines passages in one book after another.

He’s been doing this for many years.

He’ll wordlessly accept things from me—jackets, occasional bottles, rolling travel luggage—but I don’t even know his name.

I call him “Beaky”—his bald head, pointy nose, and scrawny neck strongly remind me of a buzzard.

He seemed none the worse for wear after the pushing incident. By the time I came into the McDonald’s, he had his big nose firmly planted in a book.

He left shortly after I arrived but he’s already back now, which is good because I’m about ready to leave now and there should always be at least one homeless person in McDonald’s. Rules are rules.

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