Vancouver Police introduce End Gang Life initiative

Ashley Moliere / March 6th, 2018

The VPD, Vancouver School District and the CFSEU-BC hope the initiative will stop youth from joining gangs.
(Catherine Garrett / BCIT News)

The Vancouver Police Department announced Wednesday it has partnered with the Vancouver School Boards and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU- BC) to start the End Gang Life program into Vancouver schools. Superintendent Michelle Davey of the VPD said the program aims to connect the VPD with students to help foster positive and trusting relationships with the youth.

“Information and awareness are key, especially at a young age, when you’re making decisions that could impact the rest of your life.” – Superintendent Michelle Davey, VPD

Members of VPD’s School Liaison and Gang Crime units will present school-based presentations on the realities of gangs that will be specifically tailored to appeal to Vancouver students. Davey said the goal is to reach over 4,000 students from over 18 different schools. CFSEU-BC Staff Sergeant and creator of the End Gang Life initiative, Lindsey Houghton, said this program will take years of investment and dedication in order to see positive results.

“A generational shift in thinking is going to need to take place where young people think it’s no longer okay to sell drugs, do drive-by shootings, extort other children, and create tragedy in our communities.” – Lindsey Houghton, CFSEU-BC Staff Sergeant and creator of the End Gang Life initiative

Houghton started the End Gang Life initiative in 2013 and said without a doubt the program has saved lives. He said CFSEU-BC officers often have youth come up to them after presentations and say they feel empowered to say no to selling drugs or getting involved with gangs. “Having the Vancouver Police Department as another ambassador for End Gang Life, and relaying its important messages of prevention and education, is a critical piece that may empower youth and young adults to stand up to gangs and make positive choices,” said Sergeant Houghton.

In a press release, Associate Superintendent of the Vancouver School District, Robert Schindel, said based on the past success of the program he strongly believes education is one of the best ways to prevent youth from getting involved with gangs in Vancouver.

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia is the largest integrated police in Canada and is B.C.’s “integrated anti-gang police agency.” The program is made up of members from every police department in B.C., including the RCMP with over 400 participating officers. The CFSEU-BC was established in 2009 after B.C. saw a spike in gang murders from 2008-2009.

With files from Catherine Garrett (BCIT News).