A police career is a high calling, one that demands total commitment, strong will, and a cultivated sense of discipline to live up to the expectations of police departments in every major city of Canada. Vancouver has more than the usual crime problems such as homicide, theft, gangs, and drugs. The city is home to people of many ethnicities, with large Asian and Indian populations as well as three First Nation Reserves within the city. The VPD has done an excellent job recruiting police officers from Asian, Indian, and Aboriginal backgrounds to enable better communication and ensure that issues within the different communities are dealt with sensitively.
Desiree Craig is of Métis descent. She was born in Renfrew Ontario and spent some time in Alberta before coming to Vancouver. From an early age, she wanted to help people, and by the time she was 15, Desiree had set her sights on a police career. She studied criminology at Quantlen Polytechnic and prepared to join the Vancouver Police Department. It was not the easiest decision in her life because of domestic problems that had plagued her childhood. “I had to leave my biological family and most of my friends behind. They were either bad role models, into drugs, or had drinking problems. I knew I could not be associated with them, especially with wanting to be an officer. I made the best choice of my life by leaving, and it was healthy. I don’t regret any of it.”
Her career has just started but she knows she is on the right track. She has received support from her fellow officers and enjoys her work. “I don’ t know if I can make a change. I know I want to help people. A lot of the population in the Downtown Eastside are Aboriginals. I can relate to them, as I’ve had to live through physical and mental abuse just like some of them have. So I would be approaching them on a level of understanding. I could tell them that there is more to life and they do not need to have limits on their aspirations. If I can change just one person’s life in my career, it will make everything worth it.”
Desiree’s offers this advice to anyone who is thinking of a career in the VPD. “Honestly, any program they want to take will be fine. A lot of people take criminology, but that isn’t necessary. Psychology degrees are good. Sociology and any programs that will interest them, they should take. There is also the Aboriginal Cadet Program, which is aimed at mentoring and coaching Aboriginal youths from 19 to 29 years who have demonstrated a desire to become police officers with the VPD. The cadet program runs through the summer, and selected students are exposed to many aspects of policing, including ride-alongs. The program is not on a volunteer office; students are paid a salary for attending the program.”