Giving Back – Odd Squad Productions

As police officers, we have taken an oath to serve and protect.  Once we have been sworn to duty, we are issued a badge, a uniform, a gun, and are trained in a certain skill set to better prepare us in upholding our oath.  For most, the oath of a police officer is serious business.  The dedication to duty is ingrained, getting stronger as the years pass, and remaining after retirement.  Police officers usually want to make a difference, and I’ve heard it said that if an officer helps even one person steer clear of a life of crime and drugs, then it’s mission accomplished.

Take the group of police officers who form the Odd Squad Productions.  These officers obviously care deeply about the community they serve, and they made the decision to give back.  An exerpt from their website gives some of their history:

“In March 1998, seven Vancouver City Police Officers, all working the Downtown Eastside beat, an area with an international reputation for its street open drug scene, decided to embark on an educational video for youth on drug abuse. With a common agreement that there was a paucity of reality-based educational videos available for youth, Odd Squad created a Mission Statement: to ‘educate the public on issues affecting the community’. Odd Squad Productions was registered as a non-profit society andeach member contributed money to help fund the purchase of a video camera. Camera in hand, the officers then secured permission from the Vancouver Police Department to film while on duty. With the willing participation of the individuals profiled, they immediately began video taping the disturbing lives of this core group of street-entrenched drug addicts on their beat. Little did they know it, but this work was to later become the National Film Board of Canada’s most successful documentary since its inception in 1939.”  – Odd Squad Productions

I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside most of the original members of the Odd Squad – at the time of its inception, Toby Hinton and Dave Kolb were constables on my patrol team, and Len Hollingsworth (now with the Victoria PD) was my patrol partner.  Mark Steinkampf and Walt McKay were always around.  Al Arsenault was, and is, a powerful force to be reckoned with.  When I speak of an officer’s sense of duty remaining with them even after they’ve retired their badge, I speak of Al.  All are respected both by their peers and by the residents of the Downtown Eastside. 

Since those early days, the Odd Squad has produced several documentaries.  Through a Blue Lens, Tears for April, Stolen Lives and Scathed all touch on issues that should be a concern for all of us.  Drug use, and how it can destroy a persons soul.  A life of crime, and how it is so incredibly difficult it is for a person to reclaim their lost years.  The struggle of those left behind after crime has claimed a loved one. 

The Odd Squad site is a worth a look, and if can get your hands on one of the above mentioned videos, I would recommend you watch it.  Especially if you have teen-aged children.

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