March 10, 2015 – Jim Chu, Vancouver Police Chief Constable


Jim ChuJim Chu, a 35-year veteran with the Vancouver Police Department, was appointed Chief Constable in August 2007.

He joined the VPD in 1979. His early assignments included patrol constable, School Liaison officer, and Planning and Research. He was promoted to corporal in 1989 and then detective in 1990. He held investigative assignments in the General Investigation and Robbery Squads, then returned to patrol as a sergeant in 1991. In 1996, he was assigned to head the Recruiting Unit.

In 1997, Jim was promoted to inspector and became the Vancouver Police Project Manager on the E-Comm project. This entailed managing the VPD transitions onto the E-Comm radio system, the new dispatch facility, the PRIME-BC Records Management system, and a new mobile computing and data access platform. He then returned to patrol as a district commander in 2001. He was promoted to Deputy Chief in 2003.

Jim holds a bachelor of business administration degree from Simon Fraser University and a master of business administration degree from the University of British Columbia. He is a graduate of the FBI National Executive Institute.

On January 23rd Chief Constable Chu announced he will be retiring as Police Chief later this spring.

For a good video clip of his retirement announcement which gives some good framework of his career, click on the link below.

Notes on Chief Jim Chu’s presentation

The meeting was chaired by Jack Zaleski, who opened the meeting with an hilarious twist on corn flakes.  John Gunn acted as Secretary of the meeting.

Sholto Hebenton introduced our speaker, Police Chief Jim Chu.

As always, the talk was in two parts – the main prepared speech, and the questions and answers.  As is often the case, the second part tells us almost as much about the speaker’s views as the first part.  In this instance a number of questions were direct and provocative, and in all cases Chief Chu responded without hesitation and without deflecting the question.  His explanations were clear and forceful.  He was remarkably straightforward at all times, obviously being quite confident that he could be open and frank on these controversial matters.  One question in particular was interesting – could he comment on the recent fatal shooting in Ferguson, USA.  His answer seemed to sum up an important feature of his whole philosophy of policing – the white police force in Ferguson had absolutely no rapport with, or understanding of, the majority of the population in that town and had no wish to reach a peaceful conclusion, preferring to simply overpower any trouble-makers.  This was in such contrast to his comments on the Vancouver hockey riot.  Note that in Ferguson the police appeared complete with hard hats, shields, riot gear – in short, to warn everyone they meant to enforce the law by force.  In Vancouver they went in with soft hats, no armour, no conspicuous weapons.  The message was they were there to keep the peace.  It worked.

Chief Chu opened his comments by pointing out that very much of the crime in Vancouver is driven by drug addicts in the Downtown Eastside – break-ins, car thefts, petty crime and so on are mainly driven by people desperate for money to buy more crack cocaine etc.  Many of those caught have over 40 convictions and a significant number have over 70.  There are currently 6 people who have over 100 convictions!  This is a revolving door – the party is arrested, gets sentenced, and after a short jail time, is back on the street, still an addict in need of money.   It is suggested that longer terms would encourage them to get treatment but at the moment this does not generally happen.   By the way, some who are caught happen to come from other jurisdictions, e.g., Winnipeg and Toronto. Such people are often simply flown back to their own jurisdiction using a Vancouver program called ConAir. As for violent crime, it is also mainly driven by the drug trade – in this case the violence is by the dealers who are enforcing their business operations and punishing delinquents or protecting their territory.  Female addicts, as well as doing petty crimes, sell their bodies to get money for drugs.  One of the problems with the drug trade is that it is well organized in layers so that the people at the top are difficult to convict as they seldom do the actual transactions and it is difficult to obtain evidence which will stand up in court.

Gang wars are another aspect and it can be a very expensive one to handle.  Violence in the gang wars is generally drug related and the various gangs are constantly in conflict over territory or supplies; the Vancouver police work closely with police from other parts of the GVRD as well as with the Provincial police.  He mentioned Hell’s Angels, the Bacon Bros, “United Nations”, the Dure Bros, and others.  In USA, the gangs tend to be based on ethnic bonds – not so here.   However, overall killings of and by gang members are now much less than in the last few years, for a variety of reasons, e.g., an effective policing activity n Vancouver is one in which an officer will enter a restaurant or bar and order certain people to leave – this is done with the permission and encouragement of the owners who want to protect their staff and their customers from danger from these known trouble-makers.   Incidentally, gun shots within the city are way down, e.g., in 2005 the police fired 95 shots – in 2014 only 14.   Homicides also are way down in Vancouver.  In the 1990’s a typical year had 41 such incidents, now it is around 8.  Bank robberies are also way down – 185 to 7 for the same period.   Mental disorders are a constant problem: about 20% of calls for violent crime in Vancouver involve such people, and in the downtown eastside it is up to 50%.  The police department is quite vocal in advocating more help for those disturbed people – many of them need to be in supervised environments where, among other things, they will get their meds and will be kept away from drugs.   On a typical day this department will bring in 7 or 8 mentally disturbed people to Emergency at St Paul’s or VGH because they are a present danger to themselves or others. The police are urging more follow-up for such cases rather than just returning them to the street.  The department trains their officers to handle such people with consideration rather than with force.  This is not easy, but more effective.   Whenever force is required, whether with mental cases or protestors, the force used must be measured and minimum, rather than overbearing.

Chief Chu addressed the issue of marijuana, pointing out that it is legal in certain circumstances, and among other aspects he is in favour of punishing illegal use with fines rather than the full criminal process.  One question from the floor was: “Should we legalize all drugs?” Chief Chu didn’t think there was a clear answer to this. One question compared the hockey riot to a riot in London.  “No comparison” replied Chief Chu, “this one lasted three hours, whereas London went on for days on a much wider scale”. In answer to a question on schools, his main concern was the vicious cyber-bullying that goes on, as well as the Sexting.  The internet is not a total benefit.

Nick Thornton thanked the speaker and pointed out that the entire audience here would welcome it if he would change his mind and stay on as our Chief of Police.




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