Backgrounder: Police Department

Police Department Budget Overview

  • Approximately 21% of Vancouver's annual budget is directed towards policing services through the Vancouver Police Department (VPD).
  • In 2007, the city budget allocated $179 million-for 2008, the VPD has requested additional funding to increase staffing numbers for both sworn officers and civilians.
  • Although the population of Vancouver has grown by approximately 50,000 people since 1996, the VPD force strength has not increased in proportion to that growth. However, the actual policed population is far greater than the actual population of Vancouver.

New and Current Trends in Criminal Activity

  • Vancouver has attracted more criminals from outside the city limits with statistics showing that close to one third of those charged with a criminal incident were non-residents.
  • Property crime has dropped in recent years though in 2005 cost citizens and businesses about $125 million.
  • Drug activity has climbed along with gang activity, firearm offenses, robberies, assaults and homicides. Vancouver has also been recognized as an international hub for drug trafficking Designer drugs (such as GHB and crystal meth) are also appearing throughout Vancouver at a growing rate, especially among the youth and nightclub scene.
  • Other changes in demographics have led to a rise of visitors in the downtown Entertainment District and ultimately, increased public disorder. Petty crime and aggressive panhandling have also affected the community in an unprecedented manner. The 2008 budget request includes funding specifically for additional patrol staff in this district.

Police Department Budget Recommendations

  • The proposal is phased over three years with costs increasing from $3.7 million in 2008 to $10.1 million by 2010, when all officers and civilians will be deployed.
  • To meet these requests, the city budget would involve a property tax increase of 0.75% in 2008 and 2.0% cumulatively over the next three years.
  • 48 patrol officers would be specifically targeting criminal street activity and improving emergency response times. In 2005, a deployment of 33 additional officers in the downtown Entertainment District, shortened response times by 93 seconds (14.8%).
  • The average call load per officer in the VPD is the second highest across other Canadian cities.
  • An Additional 48 investigative officers would be direct towards responding to elements of organized crime and property crime.
  • To complement investigative staff, an additional 22 civilian staff within the VPD supports investigative services with technical skills in forensics and planning and research.
Patrol Deployment Study in Granville Entertainment District
  • 48 sworn officers
  • $1.6 million

Investigative and Administrative Deployment Study

  • 48 sworn officers, $1.3 million
  • 22 civilian staff, $0.8 million

Total 2008 VPD Funding Request

  • $3.7 million
  • Additional tax increase of 0.74%
Impact of the Mentally Ill on Public Safety Costs
  • At the start of 2008, the VPD also released a report concerning the overwhelming impact that mentally ill individuals were placing on top of police resources.
  • The number of arrests related to mental health incidents by Vancouver police in 1999 was 360. In 2007, that number has since increased by five times.
  • 30% of all calls to the VPD involved an individual with mental health problems; in the Downtown Eastside, that number was found to be as high as 50%.
  • Despite increased police staffing, the problem of homelessness and limited mental health resources will continue to strain the VPD.
  • Former provincial Mental Health Advocate Nancy Hall has repeatedly explained her disappointment with both provincial and municipal politicians for providing insufficient social housing and failing to improve a mental health infrastructure that inadequately meets the needs of Vancouver's burgeoning population.
  • The deinstitutionalization of mental institutions had largely been responsible for the rise of homelessness and associated petty crime.