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Vancouver Police Department Creates Policy For Initial Contact With Transgender People

Policy

The Vancouver Police Department has created a new policy for officers interacting with transgender people.

As a result of direction provided by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, the VPD undertook a review of its existing policies to ensure that they met the needs of our transgender community. New policy was created with respectful criteria for the identification of trans people, and provides a commitment that VPD officers will receive training in the implementation of these policies.

This policy has been developed in partnership, and has been endorsed by the VPD’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee and both the Trans Alliance Society Board and the City of Vancouver’s LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee.

“The VPD values and respects the diversity of Vancouver, and recognizes that each community may have unique needs related to policing,” says Drazen Manojlovic, Director of the VPD’s Planning, Research and Audit Section. “This policy and procedure strikes an appropriate balance between VPD members’ legal responsibility to verify identity in official reports, while being respectful to the transgender person’s right to be referred to by the name and gender identity they have chosen, while also complying with the BC Human Rights Tribunal’s order.”

The Policy

In general, there are two aspects of police interactions with transgender people that may lead to possible discrimination specific to identification:

a) how the transgender person wants to be referred to by name and pronoun use when speaking with VPD members; and

b) how the transgender person’s name and gender is entered into police databases (when necessary):

  • The procedure requires VPD members to refer to the transgender person’s “chosen name” (if it differs from their name that is shown on government issued identification, e.g., a BC driver’s license). This is an important act that respects the transgender person’s right to be conversed with using the name and gender that they have chosen.
  • Police do have an obligation to verify the identity of people they interact with, and usually these people are most often a victim, witness, or suspect involved in a police investigation or incident. Verifying identification usually requires basic information, such as name, birthdate, address, and gender. This information is required in police reports that may ultimately go before the courts, and as such, it is crucial for the proper investigation and prosecution of offenses that there be no doubt as to the identity of people involved.

When a transgender person’s basic identification information is required to be entered into a police report, the recommended procedure requires VPD officers to enter this information as it appears on government-issued identification, however, officers are asked to refer to the transgender person’s adopted name and gender when completing the report.

The recommended policy and procedure will comply with the Tribunal’s order as it respects the transgender person’s right to be referred to by their adopted name and gender, while also meeting the  legal obligation of police to identify people with certainty in police reports and other documentation (when required).

Training

The VPD has developed the attached training video, titled “Walk With Me,” to address issues faced by transgender people and provide guidance on how police officers can better understand and interact respectfully with a transgender person. As part of the distribution of this policy, this video will be shown to all VPD employees. In addition, the VPD’s Training and Recruiting Section will be providing awareness training to VPD staff in 2017.