Members of the gay community have high hopes for the West End-Coal Harbour Community Policing Centre’s (CPC) new, expanded office in the heart of the Davie Village.
The new, 1,500-square-foot space, located at 1267 Davie, between the Rogers video store and the Super Valu supermarket, promises to be much more visible to those it serves, says the CPC’s president, Brian Street.
“We want to turn the CPC into a much more visible community resource, which our new, larger space will allow us to do,” Street told Xtra West, Apr 30. “This is a time for us to really get rolling. We’re excited about our increased presence.”
The new location is considerably larger than the CPC’s last home at the Shoppers Drug Mart on Davie near Thurlow. That spot, which Shoppers had donated to the policing centre rent-free, was just 250 square feet in size.
Street, a Vancouver real-estate agent who has been involved with the CPC for two years, says the rent savings helped establish the new location. “We greatly appreciate what Shoppers did for us. Saving money on rent assisted us in setting up our new office.”
“It’s an awesome spot for the CPC,” says former CPC board president, current board member and PumpJack Pub co-owner Vince Marino, adding that the larger space gives the policing centre the ability to better provide its existing services and to offer expanded services as the need arises.
“They’re well placed to serve the community,” says Marino.
“They’ve made a lot of progress over the past two years,” says Jim Deva, another former CPC president and co-owner of Little Sister’s bookstore. “They’ve got all of the components now to do good work in our community.”
Though the CPC plans to hold an open house during this year’s Pride celebrations, it doesn’t currently have any programs targeted specifically toward the queer community. But its board is always open to suggestions, says Street, who is gay.
“We serve all the diverse communities in our catchment area, but if people would like to see specific programs put in place, they should bring in their ideas,” he says.
The CPC’s current programs include foot, bike and “pooch” patrols (in which volunteers patrol with their dogs), workshops on various topics, such as safety for seniors, and a business liaison program.
Street says the CPC’s volunteers and board members are representative of the residents it serves.
“We have queer people, seniors, visible minorities and others who are involved with the CPC,” he says. “We encourage people from all backgrounds to get involved in community policing. Getting involved is the only way to help improve our community.”
Deva also emphasizes the importance of the CPC’s diverse board of directors. “They have a board that’s very representative of the West End-Coal Harbour community. That’s very important for what they’re doing.”
West Enders Against Violence Everywhere (WEAVE) is also positive about the CPC’s new location.
“I welcome anything of a larger scale that’s able to accommodate members of the community,” says WEAVE co-founder Velvet Steele. “Community policing is very important.”
Asked what programs she would like to see the CPC offer, Steele points to anything that would help make members of the queer community aware of their surroundings with respect to violence and gaybashing.
Jack Herman, another WEAVE representative, agrees with the need to focus on violence against queers.
“Most of the gaybashing in our community occurs in the Davie Village,” he says. “We need a stronger police presence in our community and this is a big step forward.”
Some members of the gay community expressed relief last year when the CPC returned to the heart of the Village after a brief tenancy at the foot of Davie St. “In the long term, I really believe that the Community Policing Centre needs to stay in the Davie Village to protect people in our community, including queers and seniors,” WEAVE’s Ron Stipp told Xtra West last July.
The CPC’s new space includes a computer terminal for online crime reporting, a space for Vancouver Police Department officers to file reports, a wall full of pamphlets on a variety of topics, including crime prevention and auto safety, and an office for its neighbourhood police officer, Const Cheryl Leggett.
The office is generally open during business hours and is hoping to expand those hours into evenings and weekends, notes Street.
Herman is glad to hear the CPC is considering extending its hours. “For queers that are being threatened or bashed, it would be a big plus if the CPC were open during the hours that most bashings occur,” he says.