Lost in Transition

The paper cup had barely touched my lips when the warble sounded on the police radio, warning of a serious crime in progress. I’d been craving this Tim Horton’s Double-Double for hours. But for now it would have to wait.

The dispatcher’s hurried voice came across with the details.

“District Two units…

“One caller reporting a man with a knife…

“Northwest corner, Columbia and Hastings…”

I fumbled around for the cup holder, rolled up my window, and cranked the police radio in my Crown Victoria to hear the next update.

“The suspect is standing under the red awning on the northwest corner, wearing a red shirt.”

Man-with-knife calls occur almost daily on the Downtown Eastside, which is part of Vancouver’s District Two. There are four districts in the city.

Most of the time they turn out to be non-events – a carver whittling a piece of wood or a street person picking scabs or digging under his toe nails. So whenever a man-with-knife call is broadcast, the first questions we ask is, “What’s he doing with the knife?”

The answer, in this case, came blaring through the radio as I pressed the button to activate my lights and siren.

“Caller says he was fighting with another male,” the dispatcher said.

“Suspect is still holding the knife.”

I raced to Columbia and Hastings, angled my car to a stop and got out. The suspect was standing right in front of me, still on the corner.  I could see he was clutching something in his hands. I assumed it was the knife, although it was late at night and the lighting was bad.

I could hear the sirens from other police cars that were getting closer. I drew my gun from the holster on my right hip, pointed it, and began barking commands.

“Show me your hands…drop the knife…”


“Drop the knife.”

Glassy stare and clenched fists.


Still nothing.

I measured the distance between the man and myself – about 20 feet.

It was way too close for comfort.

A goal-oriented man with a knife could close that gap in a couple of seconds. He could charge us, and stab me, my partner, or one of the many onlookers before I even had time to react.

I looked around at the other police officers that had shown up to cover me, hoping one of them had a taser. No such luck.

I scanned the area for cover, then took a couple steps back. I squinted my left eye as I stared down the slide toward the man at the other end. Slowly, the blurry figure came into focus.

I recognized him from the beat. He was — and still is — one of the worst examples of someone who is Lost in Transition. Drug addicted, volatile and severely mentally ill, he’s spent much of his adult life drifting between jails, psychiatric hospitals and the Downtown Eastside — which is the only place he knows outside of the locked rooms and fenced-in yards of prisons and institutions.

He’d just recently been released, after someone apparently deemed him fit enough to live with the rest of society.

And now he was staring down the wrong end of a gun.

I’ve never had to fire my gun outside of the practice range and I couldn’t tell you what it sounds like to hear a shot fired without the buffer of thick ear protection. I have only come close to shooting someone once, and I can tell you it’s a sickening feeling.

It’s even worse when you know the man you might have to shoot, and you know that he is not a criminal so much as someone who has slipped through the cracks.

As I stood on the corner of Columbia and Hastings, prepared to shoot this man if he made the wrong move, I couldn’t help but wonder what the world would think of me if I had to kill someone who was mentally ill.

Our standoff seemed like minutes. In reality it was only about 20 seconds. Still, it was long enough for a crowd of looky-loos to pull out their iPhones and hit record. The moment was not lost on them. They were there to record that last moments of this man’s life — and undoubtedly the worst moment of mine — in all its YouTube glory.

One member of the iPhone paparazzi actually tried to angle himself behind the suspect so he could capture this poor man’s point of view when the bullet left my gun.

It made me sick.

I felt like I was starting to beg for cooperation.

“Please sir…please, I don’t want to hurt you.”

Suddenly, as if I’d just uttered the secret password, he opened his fists and threw his hands in the air.  A crack pipe, a push stick and a nail file dropped to the sidewalk. There was no knife. The 911 caller must have seen the crack pipe or the nail file and thought it was a knife.

He raised his hands in surrender, laid down on the pavement and was placed in handcuffs.

I holstered my gun and leaned in to search him. As I did, he turned his head to the side and muttered an apology. It gave me chills.

I became a police officer because I wanted to take bullies, cheaters and liars off the street. When I first started out, I had dreams about charging into banks and taking down robbers wearing Richard Nixon masks and pantyhose on their heads. I pictured myself chasing gangsters down dark alleyways and holding them at gunpoint until backup arrived.

Never did I imagine that my most dangerous moments as a cop would be not with gangsters and bank robbers, but with people who are frightened and delusional due to mental illness and psychosis.

Granted, I’m sure it has something to do with where I choose to work.

Here in the Downtown Eastside, it’s estimated that half of all police contacts involve a person who is mentally ill – often one who is undiagnosed or untreated. Combine that with severe drug addictions, poverty, hunger and despair of living in Canada’s worst urban slum, and it creates a catastrophic cocktail.

Sadly, I have several police brothers and sisters who have been left with no choice but to shoot and kill, and the reality is some of the victims have been mentally ill. The officers did what they had to do to protect themselves and the public. Still, I know that none of them will ever be the same.

I could have become one of them that night at Columbia and Hastings, but for a bit of good fortune. It’s a moment that was not lost on me, as I picked up the man, dusted him off and walked him home.

Somehow, we had managed to avoid a tragedy. Still, I couldn’t help wondering if the results will be the same next time. Because I know there will be a next time. Given the current state of affairs, it’s not a matter of if, but when.

To find out more about VPD’s research and findings related to policing and the mentally ill, read Lost in Transition and Lost in Transition Part Two.

This entry was posted in Front Line Views, Psychiatrists in Blue. Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Lost in Transition

  1. Carlos says:

    Glad you didn’t shoot him Steve. Sad reality out there.

    • 9-1-1 is my phone number says:

      I just want to thank Steve for sharing what it’s really like for our men/women in blue. Police officers are human. They have family/friends/kids and even feelings! They see alot on a daily basis and tend to keep alot of it inside themselves. This job can be difficult and challenging in many ways, but every so often, something happens that reminds us of why we got into this line of work. THANK YOU Steve and the V.P.D. for putting a face to the badge.

  2. DC says:

    Powerful writing.

    Incredible awareness of the situation and training to understand what was going on and truly only contemplate lethal force as a last resort. Not just police officers want to go home to their families at night. Because on the other side of the blue line it’s also sad when in similar situations people are unjustly killed (Seattle) or innocent bystanders are killed (Montreal).

    Kudos to you sir. I hope you are in the business of policing for a long time.

  3. Sandra says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Steve. Hopefully a few eyes will be opened after reading.

  4. Akaya754 says:

    Thanks for the post Steve.
    As a young adult I just started reading the news few years ago, and for as long as I can think of there isn’t much positive reviews from the media about the police… at least much less than their reports on police “over-handling” situations
    Really refreshing to hear the other side of things, keep up the good work

  5. sue says:

    You are such a good writer that your posts read like fiction. Sadly they are truth. You write from your heart with compassion. As to the iphone junkies, I don’t get it. I wonder if they are the same people who stop at every accident scene or think what they are recording is just another reality show on TV where no one really gets hurt. And thank you for the links —most helpful to visualize what you are talking about.

  6. Steve (not the cop) says:

    Living in a city where the police have shot and killed two homeless people who had knives, and a bystander, in the past 7 months, I cannot help but wonder aloud, once more, if “barking commands” in a loud, aggressive voice while aiming a gun at the person is the best approach to fragile ‘street people’ with psychological problems.

    Unfortunately, Steve doesn’t say in his otherwise detailed description if the person who supposedly had the knife (but didn’t) was in a position whereby he was actually threatening anyone else. But it does not seem that he was threatening anyone (people don’t usually threaten others with a crack pipe and nail file).
    So if he was not in a threatening or aggressive position or posture, and if he was recognized as a regular of the area with psychological problems, then why approach him with such aggression, and thus risk escalating the situation by triggering his paranoia, etc.?

    The way it is described, this man was very nearly shot dead.
    For nothing.

    Why not BEGIN the interaction with something like the “Please, sir.. .please… I don’t want to hurt you” that was eventually uttered?

    As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I feel that, generally speaking, the police are far too quick to be aggressive (and violent). This often has the result of throwing fuel on the fire – especially where fragile people with psychological problems are concerned. Where most ‘normal’ people would react by surrendering when being threatened with a gun – because they are fully conscious of the possible consequences of not surrendering -, those with psychological problems often react aggressively when they are approached aggressively.

    So why not try a friendly, laid back approach initially. If that doesn’t work, then maybe try a more aggressive approach.

    One other note… when the police shot and killed the first homeless guy here (and the bystander across the street) back in June (when it was 4 police men and one homeless guy with a knife), a local TV station aired a video of a similar scene – 4 cops and one guy with a knife who’d just robbed a convenience store. The video was from about a year earlier – different police force, but very nearby.
    In the video, where 2 of the cops were male, and the other 2 female, all 4 cops had their ‘billy clubs’ out, and were taking turns randomly trying to knock the knife out of the guy’s hand. As the guy never knew from which direction the next blow would come, it was difficult for him to defend against them.
    It took the 4 cops only about 10 seconds to knock the knife out of his hand. Then they jumped on him. No guns were drawn. No shots were fired. No-one was killed. And the situation (which was much more threatening than the situation Steve describes above) was resolved.

    I think the police often reach for their guns far too easily. The brain can be a much more powerful – and far less lethal – weapon.

  7. JustSayin says:

    Steve (not the cop) – If you want to change the way things are done out there, instead of being an armchair critic, why don’t you take the training, put on a uniform – and get out there and show us how it’s done? And who knows? Your style may contribute to a cultural change in DTES policing.

    • Steve (not the cop) says:

      It’s not “my style”. Rather, I see it as simple common sense to approach psychologically fragile individuals peacefully, rather than aggressively.

      And referring to me as an “armchair critic” simply because I don’t become a cop is just silly. It’s not like I’m sitting by in my lovely condo, living my completely detached life, with no knowledge of troubled individuals and lifestyles, etc.. I see what’s out there; I know these people. Hell, I’m not always right – but when I’m wrong, no-one ever gets killed.

      I simply think it would be of benefit to everyone if the police first approach these situations (with psychologically fragile individuals and/or in areas of town where troubled/psychologically fragile people congregate) as if pulling their guns out and aggression were not an option – at least until the situation is honestly threatening.
      In other words, first try to resolve situations with fragile individuals peacefully. I don’t understand why this seems to be a difficult concept for some people to support – especially given the police killings of these fragile (and certainly not always threatening) individuals.
      Is it honestly too much to ask for the police to live up to their self-claimed identity as officers of the PEACE?

      • Lori says:

        @ both Steves

        First@ Steve the cop

        My brother has an eidetic memory and is a genius , is also mentally ill.

        My brother has moments, weeks, months of clarity, then just as suddenly he will be found walking in the snow with no shoes on mumbling at passerby’s.

        My brother no longer walks the streets dressed in robes with no shoes believing he is Jesus Christ and tries to heals the junkies .My brother has new meds.

        He is a danger to no one but himself.

        It has been kind officers such as your self that on many occasions talked him into their cars and out of danger. For this I am forever grateful.
        My brother will never get better. Try as we might for over 40 years he will never be normal.

        My brother is stable, a danger to no one trapped in his own mind.

        @ Steve not the cop
        Your” style ” seems rather aggressive to me.

        If my brother were shot by an officer I would understand. I would understand it was a last resort , my brother appeared to be threatening .

        I would realize that the officer would have to live with his decision the rest of his life. A decision made in 20 seconds with training behind it.

        Steve not the cop

        I hope and pray mental illness never touches your family it is worse than any disease you can imagine.

        I hope and pray you never have to make a life or death decision in 20 seconds.

      • Mark says:

        @Steve (not the cop)

        Steve (the cop) asked the suspect to “show me your hands & drop the knife”. He then asked him again. And again. The response was no response. So what should he have done? Walked up, given the dude a “hi-five” and said you down sick or what man? Need a smoke?

        Here’s the reality Steve Not the Cop. The reality is that this individual sees Steve the Cop as the enemy. It doesn’t matter what he says or how kind he is. And all those in the area also see Steve the Cop as the enemy. It’s not a personal thing against Steve the Cop, it’s just “police = enemy” and that’s the reality. My best comparison is that it’s like being a foot soldier in Afghanistan. You may be a nice guy; you may hand out rations to feed kids. Or maybe you give them toys or some of your supply of chocolate. The locals and elders may even grudgingly respect you. But that isn’t going to shield you a 39 millimeter round because in the end you are still the enemy.

        Rather than criticizing the police for their handling of mentally unstable & volatile people, maybe you should be asking why that guy is out there. It’s not the cops fault he’s out there. It’s OUR fault as a society that he’s out there. If you want that to change then direct your energies to the area of the system that CAN be changed.

        BTW…you made a comment about the police not drawing their guns until it’s “honestly threatening”. To most people, a mentally ill & volatile individual harbouring a weapon AND one who is unresponsive to communication IS a threat. In fact, without a weapon this person would be viewed as a “concern’ by most people. And that’s because he IS a concern because of his mental illness.

        The failure isn’t in the police, it’s societal because we allow this guy (or any of them) to be out there. The problem is looking back at you in the mirror.

        • Steve (not the cop) says:

          Thanks for the condescension in informing me of “the reality”, Mark. Without you, I’d simply be relying on my own personal almost 20 years of observation of and experience with ‘street people’.

          Indeed, the police are often seen as ‘the enemy’. And why is that? Could it be because of a history of treating ‘street people’ with an ugly mixture of aggression, disrespect, contempt, and disdain? From my perspective, that’s the reality.
          And I think it’s time to change the reality.

          You write: Steve (the cop) asked the suspect to “show me your hands & drop the knife”. He then asked him again. And again. The response was no response. So what should he have done? Walked up, given the dude a “hi-five” and said you down sick or what man? Need a smoke?
          More condescension, thinly disguised as ‘cleverness’…
          Nevertheless, in response… You seem to be omitting (purposely?) the fact that at the time Steve “asked” the man to drop the knife (which the man never had), Steve was also aiming his gun at the man. And he didn’t merely “ask the man”, he yelled aggressively (“barked”) his orders to the man. That’s more of a demanding order than it is a mere “ask”.
          Even you, I hope, would agree that a policeman loudly and aggressively demanding a man to “show me your hands and drop the knife” while having his gun pointed at said man is a hugely different context than if the policeman asked the man the same question while his gun was still holstered.

          Mark, you also regularly fall back on ‘The question we should be asking is ‘Why is that mentally ill person on the street in the first place?’. Well, that’s a given. But asking that question does nothing to remove the current reality that they are out on the street now, and that they have to deal with police interventions (among other uncomfortable things). As such, I feel you’re branching off into a completely different subject matter – an subject matter which certainly merits discussion, but not within the context of the situations that do occur on the street, as they are the reality, and they are what must be addressed until such time as the larger problem of the ‘mentally ill’ being on the streets can be resolved.

          The bottom line here, again, is that, the way Steve describes it, this situation was very, very close to being a disaster for all involved. And getting to that boiling point, in my opinion, need never to have happened.
          The police received erroneous information: A) there was no ‘man with a knife’, and B) the ‘man with a knife’ was not involved in a fight with his knife. There clearly was absolutely no threatening situation here. And so we have a situation whereby the police, because of their unfortunately inherent aggressive approach, could very easily have made a completely benign situation into an absolute tragedy and disaster. We’ve seen this exact scenario take place many-a-time, unfortunately. All because of their aggressive approach, as opposed to a passive, peaceful one.

          I’ve literally stepped into the middle of fights between ‘street people’ (certainly not something I look forward to doing, but there have been a few times where I felt it was the thing to do). Had I stepped into the middle of these fights with an aggressive approach, rather than a calm approach, I certainly would have made the situation worse.

          Everyone involved in the situation Steve describes is very lucky that the nail file brandishing man was not shot and killed by police. Unless he is grossly embellishing the story, Steve was quite close to pulling the trigger. Perhaps other police officers were close to pulling their triggers, as well. Everyone involved is very lucky that the man in question did not ‘freak out’ when the police cornered him with guns pointed and began yelling orders at him. Had the nail file brandishing man ‘freaked out’, we can rather safely assume that he’d be dead now. And that’s just plain wrong.

          The compassion in Steve’s story is evident. As it is in many of his previous posts. And I certainly am not questioning Steve’s compassion or caring for those who populate the DTES. As such, I can’t help but wonder if Steve responded aggressively, with gun pointed directly at his human target, because his ‘police training’ overrode his human experience; because his ‘police training’ takes him too far away from his natural compassion (and sometimes from common sense).

          It unfortunately seems to be common practice for police to respond aggressively – shoot first, and ask questions later – or, at least, draw your gun and point it, while behaving in a very aggressive manner, as an automatic procedure; to err on the side of aggression, and then say “Oops” if it turns out that they’ve killed someone because of one or a series of mistakes or simply because of poor judgment.

          So is it ok for the police to err on the side of aggression and blow the guy’s head off… and after it’s determined that a mistake has been made, simply say “Oops”? That seems to be the status quo. I don’t find that acceptable.

          To me, a much more acceptable – and effective – approach – most especially with emotionally/psychologically fragile ‘street people’ – would be for the police to approach the situation calmly, rather than aggressively. No guns drawn. Talk to the person in a calm voice. Call him/her by name, if at all possible. Try their best to establish a calm, non-threatening atmosphere and a rapport with the person.
          If the police, for some strange reason, are incapable of doing this, then they should find someone who IS capable, and have such people in every police car that serves areas of town where homeless and/or ‘mentally ill’ people congregate.
          Instead of a calm approach, the police all too often go into a situation like cowboys – because that’s what their ‘training’ dictates – and, as such, they often end up turning a benign situation into a tragedy.

          As far as approaching the street population, their ‘training’ is in dire need of a significant overhaul. You can’t approach psychologically fragile ‘street people’, who often have a lifetime of incredible hardship, betrayal, abuse, etc. behind them – on top of whatever psychological issues they may have – you can’t approach this population in the same manner that you approach ‘regular criminals’. But this is what is being done – and it’s absurd.

          Once again, when psychologically/emotionally fragile/unstable people are approached in a loud, aggressive manner, with guns drawn and yelling, etc., there is a large risk that this approach will startle them, cause them to ‘freak out’, and do any number of irrational, dangerous things. An aggressive approach is most often a provocation to those on the street with psychological problems because A) they already view the police as the enemy B) they are sometimes irrationally paranoid, C) they cannot be counted on to react rationally to being yelled at and having guns pointed at them. The rational response, as I stated in an earlier post, would be to surrender. But ‘mentally ill’ people cannot be counted on to respond rationally. And so, why in God’s name approach them with aggression? Do they deserve to be killed because they are incapable of reacting rationally to an aggressive confrontation by the police? I think not.
          The police should draw their guns when someone’s life is directly threatened. They shouldn’t use their guns as a tool of intimidation with ‘street people’, simply ‘hoping’ that it works, and if it doesn’t, and ends up throwing fuel on the fire – as it often seems to – then just fire the guns.

          People on the street with psychological problems are far, far more likely to respond aggressively to an aggressive approach, and calmly to a calm approach.
          People who make ‘the street’ their home are certainly in agreement that the police should be taking a much calmer, less aggressive approach in situations with them. And their perspective is quite important to me, as it is their lives – far more than the lives of the police – which are often on the line when police draw their guns and aggressively bark out orders to ‘obey, or else’.

          Steve – if ever you’re in a mood to discuss this subject privately, please feel free to send me an E mail (it seems that your E mail address is no longer listed here). I’d enjoy having an open, honest, rational, and respectful discussion with you on this subject.

      • Jane says:

        @ Steve (not the cop)

        I am wondering what it is you do for a living and if it involves sitting behind bullet prof glass?
        Are you threatened on a daily basis? Do you ever have 10 seconds to make such a life changing decision?

        I used to work in a position where I came between over 500 people and there prescribed drugs. This includes methadone and any number of narcotics.
        When you have no idea what the person will do next you do not have time to reason with them.
        I also did this with no one else around, no gun, no glass and only my voice as a weapon.
        knock on wood I am still here.

        • Steve (not the cop) says:

          So… rather than relying on aggression, guns, intimidation, etc., you relied on your common sense, compassion, intelligence, and your ability to assess each individual circumstance.

          Sounds like a great approach to me.

        • Patrick says:

          Here’s a point to cdnsioer if you live in Tacoma. They are talking about laying off over 100 police officers soon. Couple that with the fact that they’re going to have to do more in the coming months, that means those that are left are going to take less crap from people. They can’t afford to. They will have less back up, less shift circulation, less relief. All good things to cdnsioer when you decide to get in one’s face when they’re asking you to comply.

  8. Vancouver Cop Watch says:

    Well Steve even VCW will applaud you at how well this situation was handled.


  9. TL says:

    Steve, I work and volunteer in the DTES and know the guy who you are writing about. I am very happy that calmer heads prevailed as this could have easily escalated into a terrible situation. Having seen you interact with people in the DTES on many occasions, I want to say ‘keep up the good work’!

  10. 9-1-1 operator says:

    We had a knife call where I work just the other night. It is more unusual for us as its a smaller community but still a very tense situation. Our police were on scene in a matter of minutes and were able to quickly take control of the situation (the suspct actually did have a knife and had started cutting himself).

    No one else was hurt but it was certainly tense for a bit as I got updated information from my caller all while listening to our members drive Code 3 and then barking updates into their mics. I didnt even think until reading your post about drawn guns. Thankfully it all ended well and our suspect will also get the help he needs.

    Stay safe out there!

  11. Janice says:

    Well done Steve!!! We need more police officers like you. Most of the ones I had to work with when I was a front line worker were pretty decent cops. You do a fantastic job writing and telling your stories.I look forward to reading them all. Thank you for the work that you do.

  12. Keepin it Real says:

    I generally enjoy reading the comments from all the readers and the different perspectives they bring. Personally though, I wish Steve (not the cop) would stop taking over the comments section of the blog. Maybe he should start his own blog if he has so much to say.

    • Steve (not the cop) says:

      If I was saying what you wanted to hear, I somehow figure you wouldn’t mind my comments.

  13. Night Watchman says:

    This almost reads like a text book case of what to do when faced with the possibility of an armed person and what it means to have that “winning mentality” all police officers need to make it home to their loved ones. It could not have been handled any better by all the members on scene. Steve (Not the Cop), why is it so hard for you (and so many others) to see that the risk level of this situation was very high. Sure the guy didn’t have a knife, but no one knew that initially, and weren’t going to take any chances (because if they did, they could end up dead or seriously hurt). It just blows my mind that you can’t process that, or refuse to because you’ve got a bone to pick with the police, or whatever your issue is. Give your head a shake pal.

    • Steve (not the cop) says:

      You write:
      Sure the guy didn’t have a knife, but no one knew that initially, and weren’t going to take any chances (because if they did, they could end up dead or seriously hurt).” This is straight out of a Hollywood cop show. And this is exactly the attitude I’m referring to in my above posts. You (and others) think it’s fine for the police to completely overreact – and if they happen to kill a few completely innocent people during their overreaction, well, it’s no big deal – it’s simply the price of “keeping us all safe”.
      What utter BS! As I said – this is the stuff of Hollywood.

      Those who are so quick to defend police actions seem to conveniently ignore the fact that this innocent, nail file brandishing, non-threatening man was almost killed. HIS life was far, far closer to being ended than was that of any policeman. And this is a scene that repeats itself far too often – sometimes ending with the police pulling the trigger.
      Seeing danger where there is none can be extremely dangerous to people. It can create danger. And it can be fatal.

      I’ve no “bone to pick” with anyone. I’ve defended police officers when I’ve felt they’ve been unjustly criticized. But I’m certainly not among those who feel that the police are always right simply because they’re the police. I’ve never been a fan of any sort of blind faith.
      You’d be hard pressed to find a perspective that is more objective than mine. I’ll praise the police when I feel it’s warranted, and I’ll criticize them when I feel it’s warranted.

      Some of you seem to honestly believe that the police are always right – simply because they are the police, and, as the “upholders of law and order”, they are always inherently in the right.
      While that’s a lovely and comforting thought, it is in fact nothing but an illusion.
      The police – and police actions – can be very wrong, in any number of ways. And, because they have so much power, sometimes when they are wrong, people suffer and die completely needlessly and unjustifiably.
      And so why should they not be extra careful, and err on the side of caution instead of on the side of aggression and violence – especially when dealing with the fragile, troubled, and vulnerable street population? Why should they not take a more humane, calm, and careful approach?

      Indeed, I agree that Steve’s description was a “textbook case” of how a cop should handle such a situation – based on the police text book. From the textbook of the people on the street, however, it was not so well handled. Pointing a loaded gun at someone and almost pulling the trigger is not a nice feeling when you’re the potential target (and no, I’ve never been in the cross hairs myself).

      As I briefly mentioned previously, I think that ‘police training’ often takes the person away from their humanity. Much like military training, it has a tendency to turn people into automatons and machines of sorts. That is, after all, the actual goal of the training – to have each individual react as per the dictates of their training, totally ignoring emotion and compassion and common sense and other human (and humane) traits. To react, simply, and not necessarily to think. If the police are, as Steve himself has said, needing to be social workers out there, it’s important to remember that guns are not among a social worker’s tools.

      Less guns, more brains; less aggression, more humanity would be quite beneficial to all.

      • JustSayin says:

        Steve (not the cop) – I think you seriously over-estimate your own knowledge, skills, and abilities – and under-estimate the potential dangers on the street… If you really are a volunteer (which I’m actually beginning to question), I fear it is only a matter of time before you get hurt.

        • Steve (not the cop) says:

          And I think that you and others buy in far too easily to the romantic view that the police can do no wrong and that they are there to “protect us all”.

          You can question my experience, my knowledge, my honesty, or anything else, all you like, if it makes you feel better – which it apparently does.
          Makes it seems like you’re rather desperately grasping at straws, though…

          You’ve got a couple of cops in your family, huh?

          • DAK says:

            Steve Not the Cop…can you please point out to all of us all the stats that show police “shoot first and ask questions later”? Do you know something most of us don’t know? I read and watch the same news everyone else does. You make it sound like this is the Wild West where there is a shooting every week. I can bet there are millions of police to public contacts in BC/ Canada every year. Out of those thousands of contacts between police and a mentally disturbed person. How many of those emotionally disturbed persons end up being shot? Unfortunately it does happen but that is a last resort. If you were a cop and you arrived on scene would you know this person is high, emotionally disturbed, had a death wish or just hates the police?
            Have you ever read this recent story? (see link below) VPD officers tried speaking to an emotionally disturbed person. She was shot several times with a bean bag and taser with no effect!
            Do us all a favour and stop arm chair quarterbacking!

      • Jane says:

        If I was not such a lady I would post a comment that reads something like…

        @ Steve (not the cop)
        Time to grow up and pull your head out….

  14. Gary Cameron says:

    Steve (not the cop) said: “As I briefly mentioned previously, I think that ‘police training’ often takes the person away from their humanity. Much like military training, it has a tendency to turn people into automatons and machines of sorts. That is, after all, the actual goal of the training – to have each individual react as per the dictates of their training, totally ignoring emotion and compassion and common sense and other human (and humane) traits. To react, simply, and not necessarily to think.”

    This appallingly-ignorant statement makes about as much sense as claiming that all liberals/progressives/cop-haters have had lobotomies!

    “You’d be hard pressed to find a perspective that is more objective than mine.”

    You think?

    Gary Cameron (retired automaton)


    • Steve (not the cop) says:

      Ok, you’re a retired policeman, Gary.
      Thanks for being honest about that.

      I totally stand by my statement (which you quoted).

      And, uh… thanks for your ‘unbiased’ perspective…

      Though this may be a tad harsh, it gets the point across…

      “It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right… Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for the law is, that you may see a file of soldiers – colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all – marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power?
      The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense…”

      • Steve (not the cop) says:

        Sorry – the above quote (in italics) is from Henry David Thoreau.
        I meant to include that in the above post, but neglected to.

        • Gary Cameron says:

          “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” Henry David Thoreau


          “The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” Robert Peel

          “A recent police study found that you’re much more likely to get shot by a fat cop if you run.” Dennis Miller

    • JustSayin says:

      Gary – your story was incredibly powerful at many levels. The situation you describe outlines how unpredictable people can be (especially if mentally ill or drugged), how quickly tragedies can unfold, how little time there is to think in the midst of the chaos, and therefore how important the appropriate training is. I especially appreciated the description of your own very human emotional responses during the incident – and after. It sounds like it was a life altering experience for you. I’m glad that the injuries sustained by you and the young Native man were minor – and that the child was physically unharmed. I will be returning to your site to continue reading what I’m sure are many more interesting tales.

      Steve (the cop), Gary, and all of the other emergency personnel out there who repeatedly put your lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe: Thank you so very, very much for doing all that you do. . .

  15. George says:

    Another great entry, thanks Steve really appreciate your work. I’ve lived in the DTES for over 12 years now and have followed a few blogs on the area during that time but yours is so much more informative and I love getting the picture from your angle. It’s also refreshing to get the story without all the usual slanted rhetoric that is the norm from the groups down here who seem be more focused promoting their own agenda then anything else.

  16. sue says:

    @ Steve the cop

    I was talking to a friend about you yesterday, and she wondered if you received special training to work in the district that you do. I expect the skills you need in your current position wouldn’t be so much needed if you worked an another area of the city. But that’s just my speculation

    @Gary – thanks for the link – I will read it shortly

  17. Steve (not the cop) says:

    As we have Steve’s intimate thoughts and perspective of the incident, which have, predictably, garnered some sympathy for the ‘poor cop’ who almost “had to” kill a man and live with the consequences, I thought it would only be fair to have the nail file brandishing man’s perspective, as his viewpoint seems to have been completely ignored by pretty much everyone (or by those who’ve left certain comments, at least) – perhaps because he’s “only a street person”, and thus somehow ‘less important’ and/or expendable.
    It seems to me that the man who was ambushed and almost killed by the police likely suffered some psychological trauma of his own during and because of this incident. I’d say he likely suffered even more psychological trauma than Steve did. But that doesn’t seem to matter much here.
    Since it’s not feasible to have the nail file man’s actual input here, I’ve written out a brief account of what may have been going through his head throughout the incident – in a similar (overly) ‘dramatic’ style as Steve wrote the account from his perspective.
    This is admittedly a rather basic, speculative view on my part of how the nail file man may have reacted, but I believe it to be quite plausibly accurate:

    I was about to light the pipe, which would remove me from this all too permanent hell and bring me to that all too temporary paradise… when suddenly, a cop car screeches to a halt in front of me.
    Startled, I just stand there, wondering what the cops are doing here. Then I hear a loud voice “Drop the knife! NOW!!” The voice is yelling at me, it seems. But I have no knife. Maybe they’re not yelling at me.
    But then I see it. The cop has his gun pointed right at me. He’s about 20 feet away. Too close for comfort. From that distance, he can easily pick me off in a fraction of a second if I do something he doesn’t like. I wouldn’t have a chance.
    But why? Why is he threatening to shoot me? Because I’m a crack addict? Why can’t they stop hassling me?
    I don’t understand what’s happening. Is it a dream? Am I delusional? Am I going crazy? Have I finally fried too many of my brain cells and gone insane?
    Why is he yelling at me about a knife? Why is he aiming his gun at me? Why? WHY!? I don’t understand any of this!
    Should I run? I’ve heard of cops shooting people like me. The talk is that maybe they’re doing it just to get rid of us. They always seem to get away with it. Is it my turn?
    If I just stand here, I’m a sitting duck. Maybe I should run. If I run, at least I have a chance – it’s more difficult to shoot a moving target. They’ll probably get me anyway – but at least I’ll have a better chance if I run. Maybe they’ll only hit me in the leg. Yeah – I’ll make a run for it.
    Ok… here goes… 1… 2… 3…
    Man, I can’t move. My legs are frozen.
    I can’t breathe.
    F@&k!! – why me?! Why do I have to be here now? If I was somewhere else, they wouldn’t be coming after me. Or maybe they would. Maybe they’re out to get me. I’ve never been so terrified in my life.
    More cops coming. WHAT’S GOING ON?!!? What did I do that was so bad? What did I do to deserve this? The only person I’ve ever hurt is myself.
    Man… I’m freaking out. I don’t know what to do. Snots are running down from my nose… My eyes are full of water – everything is a big blur.
    They sound really impatient. More and more. This isn’t good at all… WHAT SHOULD I DO?!!? WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS TO ME?!? WHY!!??
    Will I ever see mom and dad again? And little Billy… there’s so much I wanted to say to him… so much I wanted to make up for. The next time they see me, I’ll be dead.
    Maybe it’s best that I die. They won’t have to worry about me anymore. I don’t deserve them, anyway.
    But it wasn’t supposed to happen like this. I DON’T WANT TO DIE!

    Huh? Knife? Why do they keep yelling about a knife? I have no knife!!!

    Sh!t – the nail file!
    I’ll drop it and just hope and pray that that’s what they’re talking about.
    Ok… here goes… close my eyes… 1… 2… 3…

    If my legs didn’t freeze up, I might be dead now. I was a split-second decision away from death. What did I do to deserve this?!

    I hate to think of what would have happened had the cops come for me just after I’d hit the pipe. I’d have freaked for sure, and I’d be dead now, lying in a pool of my own blood.
    Maybe that’s what’ll happen next time…

    Yeah – I must be completely out to lunch. After all, I’ve never in my life threatened to shoot an innocent person.
    I’ve explained my thoughts on this subject in enough detail. There is no use in continuing to repeat myself. I find it absurd that I’m being asked to defend my defense of the fragile, vulnerable people on the streets, and being accused of various ugly things. But, hey – it’s the internet, not real life. This stuff is expected here.
    I know that the huge majority population of ‘street people’ support the perspective I’ve presented here – and that is far more valuable to me than is gaining any sort of ‘popularity’ in this blog. For those who still cannot – or refuse to – comprehend what I’m saying, I suppose all I can do at this point is conclude that you either don’t care about street people, or that you’ve never had any dealings with them.

    • Anon says:

      Well, for what it’s worth, I agree with everything you’ve said. I had thought that Canadian police were trained in de-escalation techniques, in contrast to the aggressive tactics so commonly used by police here in the United States, but apparently not.

      Personally, I hate American cops with a passion, as do the majority of non-white, non-middle/upper class people. We are well aware that they are not around for our benefit, that they are willing to lie to incriminate us and protect themselves and their friends, and that they enjoy bullying more than anything else. Sure, there are exceptions, but somehow there never is an exception present when they are together in a group.

      Steve the cop sounds like a decent guy and I enjoy reading this blog, but it hasn’t (and can’t) change the fact that the police are my enemies.

    • Jane says:

      Steve (not the cop)
      Maybe you should read the story Steve wrote?
      It sounds to me that you did not take in the parts about him not wanting to shoot this person as he was aware that he was more than likley high or mentally ill?

      Not once did I get the feeling that Steve was enjoying the situation and looking for and excuse to pull the trigger.

      Maybe it’s just me though…

  18. DTES Vet says:

    I once had a similar event happen…though I didn’t have a gun.

    In a harm reduction clinic in the DTES I walk into a room with a co-worker to see a few other staff members backed in a corner. A gentleman had used his drug of choice and began having psychotic episode and believed we all had guns and were coming after him.

    After a few minutes the co-worker and myself coaxed him out of the room to another room to “chill” so we could calm him down. He then pushed between us and ran right out the door and right in the middle of traffic on Hastings between Main and Columbia. In his psychotic state he believed everyone had a gun and was going to shoot him. My co-worker and I ran out on the street to try and stop the traffic and get this gentleman to safety, but at 5 pm on a Friday afternoon no one would slow down, never mind stop. Said gentleman started grabbing onto car mirrors and screaming “help me, help me…they are going to shoot me”. People in the cars thought that the “they” meant me and my co-worker. At one point he managed to get his arm in a window a woman who got scared and instead of stopping stomped on the gas and started dragging him until my co-worker jumped in front of her car. I then grab him and held him. Again this is as traffic is going by at rush hour and not one person stopped. Just as he managed to wriggle out of my grip two VPD officers arrived got him to the pavement and handcuffed him to stop him from running back.

    After telling the story to the PC’s we ran back over the road to find the rest of our work mates staring at us like we were crazy. We asked why they were all looking like that?
    One person quietly said “did you happen to notice what he had in his hands?”.
    We looked at each other and then back to them and said in unison…um no?
    We were then told that in one hand he had a broken bottle and in the other an uncapped used rig…

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  20. Steve (not the cop) says:

    For ‘Anon’… I don’t consider the police as a whole my enemy, nor do I think that it’s healthy or fair to possess this perspective. I must admit, however, that I often feel afraid of the police – because I’ve seen and heard of too many of their abuses of power, etc.
    All I’m asking for is that people have an open mind; to be open to the reality that the police are not always right. Because they are human beings, they can make unintentional errors, they can make intentional ‘errors’, they can be dishonest, they can be prejudiced, and they can be corrupt. History has proven this many times over. Because of their inherent power and authority, when they possess any of the above flaws, innocent citizens often pay a high price – and the police usually get away with it.

    For ‘DAK’…
    What I wrote was that the police mentality is one of ‘shoot first, ask questions later’, or, at least, draw your guns and approach with aggression initially rather than calmly first trying to assess the situation.
    I have personally witnessed several police interventions with ‘street people’ in which the police used undo and completely unnecessary force. And I’ve personally been told by ‘street people’ of dozens more such scenarios. (I’m sorry, but people who live on the street generally are not equipped to record statistics.)

    In Steve’s account above, the police were ready to shoot the nail file man if he made what the police considered a ‘wrong move’ – before they asked any questions (such as “Are you coherent?”; What’s your name?”; “What is that in your hand?”). I don’t feel that’s right.
    Each time police draw their guns, there is obviously the very real potential for someone to be shot. Be it through physical error (a twitching of the trigger finger, etc.), or mental error, or through the ‘suspect’ being a genuine threat to others’ lives. As this is the case, why not first take steps to determine if there is, in fact, a threat before drawing the guns – because often, when police draw their guns, THEY – the police – become the only threat to others’ lives (as was certainly the case in Steve’s story above).
    In addition to the threat of the police shooting someone when they draw their guns, there is also the psychological/emotional trauma to the person in the cross hairs, of course.
    Police draw their guns too quickly. They rely too much on this tactic of fear and intimidation, and not enough on other forms of communication – such as calm, rational thinking and reasoning.
    And, no matter how nice and compassionate a person Steve may be, unlike some of you, I simply cannot bring myself to congratulate or heap praise upon someone simply for not pulling the trigger on an innocent person.

    Here is more police ‘heroism’, in their undying quest to “protect us all”…
    link here
    I think parallels can be drawn between this story and Steve’s account above – with the exception that no-one’s life was in danger in the Muslim/’terrorist’ circumstance. Assuming guilt and treating people as if they are guilty of terrible and/or dangerous things… and basing these assumptions on… what, exactly? Solid facts? Not in the least. Rather, they are all too often based on a ‘hunch’, or on ‘training’, or on prejudice, or on blatant stupidity, etc.
    Some of you seem to feel that this is the ‘price we have to pay’ to be “protected”. I disagree. I don’t believe in the ‘collateral damage’ of innocent persons being abused or killed (sacrificed?) in order to carry out some type of strong-armed, often ill-conceived, ‘enforcement’ action. Most especially in an urban, non-war environment.
    Where is the freedom in a culture which walks on egg shells and is so perpetually afraid of everything? Is this a healthy way to live? Not to me.

    I don’t have a political bone in my body. I simply don’t enjoy living in a ‘police state’ – and a culture in which the police are free to abuse their power and abuse citizens to any degree is essentially a police state.

    It’s easy for most of you to laud the police… because your dealings with the police are very minimal. Perhaps you’ve personally never been the victim of police abuse or error, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I seriously doubt that you’d be praising and defending them so much if you were aware of what it’s like to exist as a ‘street person’, and be hassled, harassed, and abused by the police on a regular basis, as the street population is (thus their general distrust of the police). The streets are another world altogether, and it seems that many of you are basing your assessment of the situation on both your infrequent dealings with the police, and of your ignorance of the culture on the street.

    Approaching a benign situation as if it is a life-threatening situation can rapidly turn the benign situation into a life-threatening one – as was the case in Steve’s story above. I feel that the police do this too easily and too often, and without a thought to the consequences on those they are so quick to point their guns at, for example.
    How about first assessing a situation before bringing out the cowboy hats and guns? How about determining if guns are in fact needed or not before drawing them and playing with people’s fragile psyches and fragile lives?
    How about employing the physician’s credo of ‘FIRST, DO NO HARM’ – meaning first, make sure that you don’t make the existing situation worse. One step in this direction would be to approach calmly rather than aggressively, and assess the situation, rather than always assuming the absolute worst, most dangerous possible scenario, and treating the person as absolutely guilty (see Muslim ‘terrorist’ story).

    Again – and I cannot stress this enough… Psychologically unstable and drug addicted people are far more likely to react aggressively to an aggressive approach, and calmly to a calm approach. Don’t tell me that the police who work in places like the DTES don’t know this – of course they know it. So why don’t they adapt their approach accordingly? Why is it that the calm approach is so rarely practiced by police? Because, simply, their ‘training’ says to approach aggressively. This needs to be changed – especially when dealing with these psychologically/emotionally unstable/fragile people.

    • DTES Vet says:

      To Steve (not the cop)

      I would like it if we tried your theory out.
      We will put you in a room with someone I know from the DTES that is so chaotic and violent that the jails will not hold him so we had to house him. Though he is in a wheel chair and has only one arm, mental health and addiction issues his assult record is a mile long. I am sure Steve (the cop) will know who I mean as every police officer, judge and hospital worker shudders at the mention of his name.
      Then we will see how long you last asking him if he is ok?

      • Steve (not the cop) says:

        You’re not making any sense at all, and, ever so conveniently (and likely deliberately), you’re completely missing my point that only a small fraction of situations where police react aggressively are actually dangerous situations.
        There is no justification for them risking the lives of others as freely as they do. To say nothing of the way people on the street are treated by many cops…

        Was the nail file man “chaotic and violent”?
        Not in the least…

        Since you seem to want to to try a theory out… how about this… the next time you’re walking out in public while carrying a nail file, minding your own business, bothering no-one, how about the police suddenly and aggressively corner you, aiming their loaded guns at you, aggressively ‘bark’ orders at you, and threaten to shoot you if you don’t do everything they command.


        • DTES Vet says:

          I have worked on those streets for many years.
          Yes I too have witnessed over aggressive police, but at the same time I have witnessed compassionate, understanding police that have gone out of there way to bring homeless, mentally ill and or addicted people to me to help them rather than arrest them.

          Here are my points in point form so that maybe you understand better?

          a) You are always banging on about how the people of the DTES are pre-judged and treated like something you step in… correct?
          Well most of us out here reading your posts feel in many of your posts you seem to be doing the exact same thing to the police or anyone else that does not live that life.
          In my book it is wrong to do this no matter what side of the fence you are sitting on.

          b) The police, fire, ambulance or front line workers have no idea how someone will react in these types of situations, so yes they are trained to secure the area to protect others. If this means barking orders at first until they find it is a nail file and not a knife then that is what they have to do to make sure ALL involved are safe.

          • Steve (not the cop) says:

            In my experience, when it comes to dealing with ‘street people’, the compassionate, understanding police officers are very much the exception. I have witnessed and heard of far more unnecessarily aggressive cops than I have compassionate, respectful, and understanding ones when they deal with ‘street people’.

            In response…

            A) No, I am not “always” banging on about prejudice against ‘street people’. It is something which undeniably exists in our culture, and I address it when I feel it’s pertinent to do so.
            You write “most of us”… were elected spokesperson?
            In any case… if YOU (try to speak only for yourself, as it gives you more credibility) if you feel that I am stereotyping the police, that’s fine. What I’ve said – over and over – is that the police generally are too aggressive and draw their guns too soon. Especially when dealing with ‘street people’, which is the subject here.

            B) You write: “that is what they have to do to make sure ALL involved are safe” The nail file man was not at all safe in the scenario Steve described. Based on Steve’s account, he was basically one ‘wrong’ move (‘wrong move, as defined solely by Steve and any other officers who were aiming their guns at him) – he was one ‘wrong move’ from being shot. This, then, is a ‘safe situation’ only for the police, as they have the guns. For the nail file man, it was obviously anything but a “safe” situation.
            As I’ve made clear numerous times… I feel (based on my experience, observation, and common sense) that when the police react aggressively, they are CREATING a dangerous situation. I believe this to be incredibly obvious, as guns pointed and lives being threatened is a very dangerous situation. This was exactly the case in Steve’s story above, where a calm approach would have certainly been better than the aggressive/gun approach that was used.
            I don’t feel that the possibility that their ‘target’ is dangerous to others justifies this type of aggressive approach from them. Judging by their often aggressive approaches, the police seem to believe that 90% of situations are ‘very dangerous’. But quite often, the police end up being far more of a danger than is the person they are targeting.
            As well, approaching a psychologically fragile/unstable person in an aggressive manner is far more likely to provoke an aggressive reaction from the person than is a calm approach. If you work with unstable/addicted ‘street people’, you should certainly know this. If the person reacts aggressively to an aggressive approach by the police, somehow, the police are then ‘justified’ in shooting him/her – even though it was the police’s approach which provoked the aggressive response from the person.
            Conversely, approaching the unstable/addicted person calmly is more likely to result in a calmer reaction from the person than is an aggressive approach.
            Of course, there are exceptions – but these are the likely scenarios based on history.

            Therefore, I ask that the police approach calmly – cautiously, but calmly – initially; I ask that they assess the situation before automatically jumping into aggressive/gun mode. I ask that they approach a situation at first as if guns are not an option; that they use their brains to first assess, and then de-escalate the problem, and only if this doesn’t work, and only if others’ lives are actually at risk from the behaviour of their target person do they take out their guns. I ask this out of respect for the (often innocent) people they are overly aggressive with.
            I believe this to be a very reasonable thing to ask.

            The rest of my response to your point B) can be read in most of my previous posts.

    • anon says:

      Oh, Steve (not the Cop), I didn’t think you’d agree with me about cops being the enemy, but you’d be wrong that it isn’t a “fair” or “healthy” view. You’re white, and you’re middle class, and you’re male. As you note, your experiences with cops are vastly different from mine, my family’s, and my friend’s. How many times have you been falsely arrested for crimes? How many times have you or yours been arrested and prosecuted and sent to prison for trivial drug offenses? How many times have you been forced to accept that cops can lie in court or elsewhere and be believed by everyone who “matters”? Ask the people who are actually subject to the police state what it is like living under it. Of course, we’d all love to have some law-protection group that would give us support and catch the predators, but in the US, at least, we don’t. We have aggressive bullies who torment all of us as a group, who reveal us when we trust them to keep our tips confidential, and who don’t even live in the communities they police. I promise you it would not be “healthy” to trust the cops where I come from.

  21. Mary says:

    @Steve (not the cop)

    You’ve made your point of view clear, over and over and over …………..enough!

  22. Mrs. Petre says:

    Steve NOT the COP – Please get your own blog – that way you can write as much as you want and please get off of Steve’s….or better yet go do a walk along with a member and hopefully you will be placed in the same situation as Steve was and deal with it on your own! – You can talk to the man peacefully and share some biscuits and a cup of tea!

    • Steve (not the cop) says:

      I’ve encountered people carrying crack pipes and nail files before.
      I never yelled at them, let alone aimed a gun at them.

      As for my posts here, they are all on topic. If someone is somehow forcing you to read them, perhaps you should call the police.

  23. H says:

    I am curious about your remark about hoping one of your fellow officers had a taser. I take it then that a taser is not standard issue? I find this very surprising and unfortunate.

    • Steve says:

      That’s correct. In Vancouver tasers are not issued to every police officer. There are a certain number of officers who are trained to carry tasers, as well as shotguns that fire bean bag rounds.

  24. kaylee says:

    @Steve the cop thankyou for your service your posts remind me of why i have always wanted to be a cop you have such compassion and you still care even after the garbage you have seen stay safe out there you and your co workers are in my prayers for safety daily

  25. Chris Wirth says:

    Hey Steve,

    Great piece, I work in the DTES for Harbour Light and have read your posts for a while now – personally I think this was your best.

    I’m also sickened by the bystanders approach to this situation – and this sort of voyeurism (along with the appeal of profit, fame via youtube or whatever) is a sad reflection on the lack of compassion in our society right now. I’m not sure if a law would be effective here but I wonder if the thought to help in some way ever crossed these individual’s minds.

  26. Kyle says:

    Steve (Not the Cop):

    Here’s a video to demonstrate why people with knives have guns pointed at them:


    or if that didn't work:

    The suspect is out of a car, closes approximately 15-20 feet and slashes an officer in the face all between 00:09 and 00:11. Action versus reaction, no officers got any shots off before the one was slashed and I'm sure all of them had their guns drawn. The officer is lucky the slash was not fatal.

    • Steve (not the cop) says:

      If I had the video of the situation I described in one of my posts – where 4 cops with ‘billy clubs’ (or ‘nightsticks’) disarmed a man with a knife within 10 seconds (no guns drawn, no injury to anyone), I’d put it up here, too.
      Hell – if videos existed of all police interactions with people with knives – and nail files – then we could both post endless videos, I suppose. (My videos would be from a more objective source than a website designed for police, though.)

      In any case, I stand by my position, which I’ve explained in as much detail as I can here.

      • Gary Cameron says:

        We live in a strange new world where a few individuals who have watched a couple of TV cop shows and consumed the misleading propaganda propagated by our local Mainstream Media feel qualified to pass themselves off as experts on policing. Of course in the real world, police officers require years of training and real-life experience before they are considered to be proficient street cops, but some misguided individuals apparently believe that working as a street cop means you are too biased to comment on, er, police tactics.

        It occurs to me that, over the years, I’ve watched many medical shows like ER and Marcus Welby and even (I’m embarrassed to admit) snippets of Grey’s Anatomy, and I couldn’t help but pick up a few skills as I observed these characters play their roles. Consequently, I recently decided to hang my shingle as a brain surgeon, and I find myself wondering if Steve (most assuredly not a cop) might require my services.

        • Steve (not the cop) says:

          Desperately trying to discredit those who’ve a perspective that opposes one’s own is a rather… well… desperate measure.
          Doing so while passing oneself off as an expert only adds to the desperation.

          As if no perspective but the perspective of the police matters.
          How utterly selfish and arrogant.

          I’d be honoured to see that you view my perspective to be such a threat to yours, Gary… but the pompous and condescending manner in which you express your perspective prevents me from feeling any such honour.
          So I’ll content myself with the knowledge that I’ve gotten under your skin.

          Have fun frolicking among your police-worshiping friends and acquaintances, Gary, as it seems that such people are the only ones worthy of possessing an ‘intelligent’ perspective in your eyes.

          Meanwhile, I’ll continue to question the things I consider wrong and dangerous.

          • DTES Vet says:

            It is time to get over yourself Steve (not the cop) and just admit that not ALL cops are bad.

            End of.

            If this is not possible for you to admit then it is time to take a good look in the mirror and find out what has made you so closed minded and try and fix it?

            And for god sake if you hate cops so much stop reading this blog.

  27. Steve (not the cop) says:

    Point to even one sentence where I said that all cops were bad, please.

    If that’s what you got from my comments, I must assume that’s what you wanted to get from my comments.
    All along, my position has been extremely clear – that the police too often are too aggressive when there is no need to be – particularly with the street population -, and that the police often become the danger that they claim to be protecting us from; that a calmer, more rational and respectful approach is needed for the benefit of everyone.
    I’ve expressed this in several different ways – but the message has been very consistent.

    Geez… from twisting words to Gary’s personal insults, some of you sure are desperate.

  28. Gary Cameron says:

    To Steve (the cop):

    Should have mentioned this earlier — well done.

    And VPD cars have cup holders nowadays? Progress!


  29. Alireza says:

    Good job,

    I am proud of lovely Vancouver police. Thanks and keep it up.

  30. Meghan says:

    This is an amazing story. I got chills and it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I’m very thankful for police officers like you. I hope this type of situation has an outcome very much like the one in the end of this story. THANK YOU, Thank you for everything you do each day on the beat!

  31. pigeon says:

    We know that cops are scared. They are incredibly insecure because they worry about potential danger around them constantly. In situations of violence, it is hard for them to use the minimal amount of force necessary. In many cases, cops go too far, and other cops support them.

    But there is more to it than that. They also claim they are threatened more than they really are. He was 20 feet away. He could “close the gap in seconds”? Sure. And a bullet can go through him in a split second. If you’re not geriatric, the man with the gun wins. I don’t know what you were so fearful of.

    The other thing we need to be honest about is that some cops will use excessive violence at the first opportunity. You play the role of “compassionate cop” very well on this blog, but let’s face it: many cops have a sense of superiority and love the authority they get with the badge. This only makes them more willing to use force, as soon as they have justification (“he didn’t drop the knife!”), as though it were necessary. There are the “give me an excuse” types, just waiting for the chance to kill. And then there are the types that are a little too eager and get caught murdering in cold blood.

    I’m glad everyone busted out their iPhones. It keeps cops like you honest. And that’s always a good thing.

  32. Raingurl says:

    I read “Cory’s Story” I kept hoping he wouldn’t die in the end. I kept hoping for a happy ending where the medical system, the city and the feds all stepped up to help him. I kept hoping. When I started reading the article I did not know he was the Granville Bridge Guy. I always wondered what brought someone so over the edge that you would jump off the Granville Street Bridge. Now I know.