Vancouver’s police force is shrinking, according to a report issued by Statistics Canada on Monday.
The rate of police strength, as measured by the number of police officers per capita, is decreasing in Vancouver and the rest of British Columbia thanks to officer retirement. Between 2013 and 2014, there was a 4 per cent decrease in the number of police officers in Vancouver and a 2.2 per cent loss B.C.-wide.
Stats Canada also found that 54 per cent of Canadian police officers were aged 40 or older and five per cent of officers were 55 or older. Due to the growing age of the police force, retirement is the most common reason for leaving police service.
Vancouver Police Department Sergent Randy Fincham says it is sometimes difficult to determine how many officers will have in a given year due to retirement numbers and the lengthy training process new recruits must endure.
According to Fincham, the VPD predicts each year how many officers will be retiring using a formula of officer’s age combined with the number of years they have been in the service. When the added numbers equal 80, that is when officers typically retire. Because the VPD had a very large number of recruits for Expo ’86, those officers are now reaching retirement age and leaving the force. Replacing a retired officer with a new recruit takes up to a year on average.
British Columbia had 8,754 officers in 2014 compared with 8,952 in 2011. Meanwhile, Criminal Code Offenses in the province have been steadily decreasing, down from 506,822 in 2004 to 341,532 in 2013.
Also reported was an increase in female police officers, making up 20.6 per cent of the force in 2014 compared to 16.5 in 2004.