With its new board of directors and new office outside the Davie Village, the newly expanded West End Coal Harbour Community Policing Centre (CPC) is shifting its priorities away from queer safety and livability on Davie St to a larger, straighter community view.
The CPC office in the Shopper’s Drug Mart on Davie near Thurlow St is now closed. The CPC has moved into a larger space at 1750 Davie St near Denman St, and hired its first full-time executive director.
Outgoing CPC president Jim Deva, who joined the then-Davie Village CPC board in 2002 in the wake of Aaron Webster’s brutal beating death, stepped down after serving his full term as president at the CPC’s annual general meeting, Oct 20.
“I will continue as a volunteer hopefully doing some patrols in whatever small capacity I can,” said Deva at the AGM. “I’m going to be here emptying the garbage and stuff, but I won’t have to deal with the major issues.”
Deva says he’s very pleased with the progress the CPC has made over the last few years and maintains that, although the expanded CPC has a bigger budget and covers a larger geographical area, service to the queer community will not be eroded by the growth.
“All these changes have been long fought for and there are many more things that need to be done,” says Deva. “We’re just on the very edge of major change and I’m very optimistic about the future of our society and the core of community policing.”
Vince Marino, who is co-owner of the PumpJack Pub and president of the Davie Village Business Improvement Association, is a newly elected member of the CPC board. He, too, says queer people will still be well served by the CPC.
“Everybody on that board that I know of has community interests in their minds and that is, to me, the key,” says Marino.
“It’s not all about the gay community,” he adds. “It’s about our entire community and working together. The issues are the same issues everywhere. An illegal activity against anyone is illegal, period.
“I’ll be out on the street to fight for us as much as any other person when I need to,” continues Marino. “But I don’t think we should marginalize ourselves by making it just us.”
Marino says he hasn’t had a chance to attend a regular CPC meeting and the CPC hasn’t yet elected an executive, but he wants the CPC to continue to flourish over the next year.
“We’re going to look at what is there and continue to strengthen the positive elements of what was done by Jim [Deva] and his crew and continue to build.”
Deva credits the work of Don Ransom, returning CPC board member and chair of the Vancouver Association of Community Policing Centres, for negotiating the details of the increased funding for the CPC over the past year.
Ransom says the CPC has so far received almost $45,000 of the potential $100,000 in funding earmarked for it from the city through the police department. He says there are some paperwork and negotiations yet to be completed, but he expects the CPC will receive the rest of its funding soon.
Ransom would like to see the CPC develop an outreach safety program for senior citizens with some of the money, but says the CPC isn’t and shouldn’t be concentrating on specifically queer issues like bashing.
“Personally I think that instead of zeroing in on the gay/lesbian community in terms of assault and things on the street-I think the program should be broader than any of those issues. Otherwise I think you may in fact run the risk of being tagged as a gay organization and people would say, ‘why would I have anything to do with it because I’m not gay.’
“That would be a real falsehood,” continues Ransom. “By a long shot, the majority of our volunteers are not gay or lesbian, although some are. I have no way of knowing that. It’s not that they wear a little badge or anything. It’s important to keep that in mind. We’re in partnership with the VPD [Vancouver Police Department] who are there to protect everybody not just some.”
The CPC’s new Executive Director Pamela Dudoward has been on the job for only a few weeks and is still getting up to speed with all the issues facing the CPC.
“Personally I haven’t had a lot of direct exposure with homophobic violence,” she says, “but it’s an issue that I find really close to my heart. I find assault and violence based on sexual choice utterly despicable.”
Dudoward says even though the CPC office has moved down the hill from the Davie Village, the CPC is careful to patrol hotspots where homophobic violence has occurred in the past.
One way gay people can help to combat homophobic violence is to drop by the CPC to contribute some time as a volunteer, she says.