From the UK to Canada

A couple of years ago, when I was a brand new dog handler (I still feel new, so go easy), I responded to a break and enter at a local car dealership.  Patrol units had responded to an alarm – upon their arrival, they advised dispatch that one of the doors of the dealership had been forced open, and the suspect was possibly still inside.

Let me tell you folks, such broadcasts are music to a dog handlers ears.

Because the car dealership covered more than a square block, I asked for clarification on which side of the premise the forced door was.  The unit at scene, a recent implant from the UK, was prompt in his responding broadcast, but due to the officer’s accent I did not understand a single word he said.  It was only from the upward lilt to the end of his sentence I realised the unit had asked me a question. 

Hmmm….I did not know what he asked me, and for a brief moment I considered playing innocent.   Usually, I understand an Irish/Scottish/English accent and all the accompanying lingo, but not this time.  Did I admit defeat and admit my interpretation skills were not up to snuff, or did I blunder on and risk the bad guy getting away?  After a considerable passage of radio silence, I finally fessed up and broadcast, “10-9?” (in police terms, 10-9 is a request to repeat the last broadcast).  The officer responded with a slow and perfectly enunciated update – “The breached door is on the south side of the building – do you want me to hold it?.”

Needless to say, I found the officer and the breached door a few seconds later, and PSD Hondo searched the building with negative results. A later look at video surveillance showed the suspect had been in and out before the alarm had even sounded, and he was long gone before police arrived onscene…but I digress…

I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside several officers who have previous experience policing in the UK.   One helped me search a car dealership, one dug my two-wheel drive Tahoe out of the snow last winter (for which I still owe him a coffee), one is now a Sgt i/c of the Public Order unit (of which Hondo and I are a part of) and another trained alongside me as we went through the four week ERT course.  All have been very good at their jobs, and each have brought their UK experiences with them – to our benefit.

Curious as to how they decided to come to Canada, I asked the Recruiting Unit what an officer from overseas had to qualify in to become a member of the VPD.  The answer was this – an officer from a country other than Canada HAS to have their permanent resident status confirmed and in place before the Vancouver Police Department will even entertain their application.  And then, the officer-from-another-country must go through the same steps as any other applicant – exam, physical test, medical, assessment center, background check and interview. 

Policing in the UK is different that Canadian policing.  For one, the majority of UK officers are not issued guns – there are specialized firearm units who respond to calls where an armed response is appropriate. On the flip side, UK officers have far more experience than we do on how to handle riot/crowd situations.  In a recent training day with the Public Order Unit, PSD Hondo and learned about crowd dynamics.  Pretty amazing stuff – where the UK officers have experience being struck with Molotov cocktails, we do not (thank goodness).  Is it because of their different society?  I’m not sure – I’ll leave that subject for the social structure experts.  But we, as the Vancouver Police Department, are a better workforce with the addition of our brothers and sisters from the UK.

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