South Asian cops patrol the Downtown Eastside beat (video)

By LARISSA CAHUTE, VANCOUVERDESI.COM
Most people aren’t open to getting to know the drug addicted and homeless in Vancouver’s downtown east side.
But Vancouver PD Sgt. Kal Dosanjh, with the downtown east side beat enforcement team, thinks of some of them as family.
“(When) you see them using or dealing it’s heartbreaking,” he told Vancouverdesi.com. “We’re not only dealing with them with priority one calls, we’re not only dealing with them in street level interactions – we’re dealing with them on all levels.”
“We’ve been able to establish a very strong rapport (and) build strong bridges of communication.”
As he patrols the busy streets and alleyways by foot, he shakes hands with those he’s gotten to know over the years, speaks with them on a first name basis and checks in on their progress.
“You have to have compassion for these individuals, you can’t come in with this sense that you’re going to impose the law on everybody,” said Dosanjh. “They’re drug addicted they require help … we want to give them help.”
Dosanjh’s work goes beyond helping the struggling community off the streets and into detox centres, though – he also sees himself as a much-needed role model for the young South Asian community.
“Gang violence in the Indo-Canadian community is something that has transcended generations,” he said.
To him, it’s never a surprise to read about Indo-Canadian gang members killed or charged with drug trafficking.
“The new generation of kids … they’d see articles like this, but they’d also see the glorified version of the gangster lifestyle with lots of cash, money, cars,” he said. “And they’d … gravitate towards that lifestyle.”
“As a member of the Indo-Canadian community, it’s bothersome,” he added. “The majority of the South Asian community are hard working, have accomplished a lot.”
So Dosanjh wants to stand out against the “bad apples” and be a positive role model for young South Asian kids.
“(They can) see that we’re the good guys, we’re here for them,” he said. “We want to see them succeed and become successful in life and obviously save them from a life of gang and crime.”
Dosanjh’s enforcement team is also featured on the reality series, The Beat, which is a “very graphic portrayal of the challenges that we face as police officers in the downtown east side.”
“The TV show is almost a preventative measure that we can utilize as a proactive means to build a bridge with these kids and show them that … someday they can aspire to be like us,” he said.
And while becoming a mentor for the young generation is rewarding for Dosanjh – his line of work can still be incredibly frustrating.
Almost like “shoveling water,” he said – “You’re not getting anywhere.”
“It’s very important not to become disillusioned … to the point where you want to leave the beat because you don’t feel that you’re being effective.”
The drug addicted aren’t always open to his help and often push him away.
“But you go back to them the next day, the day after, the day after — until they’re finally ready to make a change,” he said. “You have to keep trying because the minute you stop is the minute you’ve given up.”
“I’ve always had a sense that I never want to give up – I can make a change now.”
lcahute@theprovince.com
twitter.com/larissacahute





Jeff says:

Why is there no comment on this site of the Amanda Todd suicide?? Is it because she is white that it is not relevant in the South Asian community?

Such discrimination!

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