Vancouver police propose unarmed “peace officers” for less dangerous tasks
A new breed of cops may walk the streets of Vancouver starting next year. They’ll be regular personnel of the Vancouver Police Department but unlike full sworn officers, they won’t be packing heat.
They’ll be called “peace officers”, and according to Vision Vancouver councillor Raymond Louie, the introduction of the unarmed police personnel is one of the highlights of the $1.4-billion proposed budget of the City of Vancouver in 2013.
“If it’s approved as part of the budget, they’ll come on stream partway through 2013,” Louie told the Straight in a phone interview.
Council will hold a special meeting about the budget on Tuesday (December 4). The 2013 appropriations measure is set for a vote on December 10.
The VPD may receive an operations budget of $219 million in 2013, up by $6 million from this year.
According to a city budget document up for discussion on Tuesday, regular police officers are “often unable” to attend to certain calls like noise complaints because they are “busy with administrative duties, court, serious incidents, incoming emergency calls, and other police duties”.
The introduction of peace officers through a three-year pilot program will “address these gaps”, the document states.
“There are a number of lower-complexity, lower-priority and lower-risk tasks that can be effectively handled by unarmed, uniformed staff with Peace Officer status,” the document notes.
According to Louie, chair of the council’s committee on city finance and services, peace officers will lead to lower costs in delivering police services. He added that senior VPD management is negotiating with the police union over the details regarding the deployment of peace officers.