Vancouver police chief Jim Chu announces retirement

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      Vancouver police chief Jim Chu has announced he's retiring after 36 years on the force.

      In a message posted on Twitter this morning (January 23), he thanked community supporters, partners, and Vancouver Police Department staff.

      Chu assumed command as chief constable of the VPD in 2007.

      He began his tenure on a reconciliatory note, wrote Georgia Straight reporter Carlito Pablo in a cover story published during Chu's first year in charge.

      "After years of fighting a series of complaints of abuse by its officers against poor people in the Downtown Eastside, the department issued a formal apology to the neighbourhood’s residents," Pablo reported.

      "The department expressed 'regrets' that 'positive changes' in policies and procedures were not in practice at the time when the complaints were filed. The VPD stated in a news release in November 2007 that 'this marks the beginning of a new era of improved service to the residents of the Downtown Eastside'."

      Chu, the first person of colour to lead the Vancouver Police Department, is the son of immigrant parents from Shanghai. He joined the VPD as a beat cop in 1979 and went on to hold the ranks of inspector, detective, and patrol sergeant.

      He was often a champion of diversity, regularly appearing in the Pride, Vaisakhi, and Chinese New Year parades.

      Under Chu's command, the VPD implemented a "broken windows" style of policing, working to address minor law infractions as a method of reducing more serious crime. It also showed more compassion in how it dealt with homeless people as well as individuals who struggle with a mental illness and/or addiction. In 2009, for example, Chu saw the VPD remove from its business plan a provision that would have set targets for more tickets issued to poor people in the Downtown Eastside. More recently, in September 2013, Chu stood alongside Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and made a public call for the province to provide more resources for mental-health care.

      Under Chu's command, the VPD didn't launch a crackdown on the city's growing number of marijuana dispensaries. As president of the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, Chu urged the federal government to change the law to allow for ticketing people with small amounts of marijuana.

      The force also remained supportive of Canada's only supervised-injection site, even though it was opposed by the federal government.

      Under Chu's leadership, the VPD pioneered progressive approach to dealing with sex workers. The department's 2013 sex-work enforcement guidelines stated that all cases of violence or abuse of sex workers should be treated as "serious criminal matters" and that an officer should be assigned to investigate. 

      The VPD also declared that the safety of sex workers would be respected and that police intervention following complaints would be "as nonintrustive and informal as possible in order to protect the safety, and privacy of those they are investigating".

      Despite this widely hailed policy, UBC researcher and associate professor of medicine Kate Shannon found that the VPD's focus on clients rather than sex workers did not alter rates of physical violence and rape.

      Chu's VPD faced other criticisms.

      For years Pivot Legal Society and other nonprofits accused his officers of disproportionately applying bylaw tickets to poor people. There were a number of controversial deaths involving the VPD such as that of Michael Vann Hubbard, a homeless man who was shot and killed by police in March 2009. The department's tactics were also questioned regarding its handling of a 2011 riot that followed the Vancouver Canucks losing the Stanley Cup.

      Chu's first day as chief came the morning after a mentally ill animator, Paul Boyd, was shot by Const. Lee Chipperfied at the corner of Granville Street and West 15th Avenue.

      Robertson, with whom Chu shared a close relationship, is expected to join the outgoing chief at a press conference later this afternoon.

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      Jan 23, 2015 at 10:30am

      I'll always remember him for his outlandish hockey riot caused by anarchists press conference. Good times.


      Jan 23, 2015 at 10:46am

      Great news for the force. Time to get back on track, with leadership, integrity , and honesty. no political toadies need apply


      Jan 23, 2015 at 11:35am

      Maybe we can have someone who won't abuse his office by failing to enforce the laws against retail marihuana facilities!

      Armchair Watcher

      Jan 23, 2015 at 11:41am

      Wonder if he and Mayor Robertson will be announcing Chu's appointment as the City of Vancouver's next city manager? If not today, when will that announcement be made? Its a question worth asking Chu and Robertson. He's proven his commitment to staying within budget no matter what the measurable outcomes. He has been a dutiful and diligent foot soldier who stayed within the margins. He's too young to stop working. Wonder what he would say is up next in his career if asked?

      I'm worried about who'll replace him

      Jan 23, 2015 at 11:46am

      Chu was the best chief we've had in all the time I've lived here. Probably ever.

      Remember when VPD got a wrong address near Victoria and 41st and beat up the guy that answered the door? Then the VPD mouthpiece, er, spokesperson said the guy was "resisting arrest"? Then Chu walked it back and apologized to the man in person?

      THAT is a police chief that Vancouverites need. Leadership, integrity, and honesty.

      Unlike the crappy chief that "RETIRED VEE PEE DEE" above would like. And RETIRED VEE PEE DEE was undoubtedly a crap cop too judging by his comment.

      I have said in the past, we need to clone Jim Chu and sell copies to police forces all over North America. Many jurisdictions need someone like him.

      He'll be very hard to replace.

      Armchair Critic

      Jan 23, 2015 at 6:30pm

      @I'm worried: Your statement is a little too cheerleader when you consider some of the facts. New stats are out from the VPD and property crime is up in Vancouver. Chu also just presided over some serious cuts to various VPD departments. He will be long gone by the time the impacts of that are being experienced by Vancouverites and others. If you think the DTES is bad now, just wait!

      No-one is irreplaceable. From what I've seen there are some solid internal candidates. There might also be some wildcard applicants. I think a hometown boy resonates for a lot of people. I'm curious who @RETIREDVEEPEEDEE sees as a frontrunner?

      Here's hoping Jamie Graham doesn't get any ideas. I hear he's on the job market again. ;-)


      Jan 23, 2015 at 10:48pm

      The Downtown Eastside was a drug-ridden sewer in 2007, and it still is. Thanks, Jim.