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VPD Mounted Unit's Two Newest Members: Turbo and London




I want to welcome you and our guests, Mr. Wynne Powell, the CEO of London Drugs, and Valarie MacLean of the Vancouver Police Foundation to the Vancouver Police Mounted Unit. I also want to acknowledge North Command Superintendent Andy Hobbs of the VPD who is also here today.

The Mounted Unit has been a fixture in Vancouver and Stanley Park since 1909. The horses and police officers of the Mounted Unit patrol the park, but they also engage the public and engage in youth outreach. 

The Mounted Unit is also an essential component of the VPD’s Public Safety Unit. They played a vital and courageous role during the 2010 Olympics, as well the 2011 Stanley Cup riot.

I would add that recently the Horse Council of BC named the horses of the VPD Mounted Unit “2011 Horse of the Year” for their crucial role during those events.

We’re here today to share a special story with you. Amongst the many difficult and traumatic events that occurred during the riot on June 15th, 2011, was the story of what happened to the employees at the London Drugs store. You may recall that while looters were in the store, employees had to lock themselves in the back and endure hours of mayhem and fear while members of the VPD tried to reach them.

In the aftermath of those events, the employees and London Drugs wanted to do something to thank and acknowledge the Vancouver Police Department. The result was a t-shirt campaign and a subsequent directed donation by London Drugs to the VPD Mounted Unit.

Coincidently, the Mounted Unit was looking for a new horse around that same time. Our preliminary enquiries in the “horse world” resulted in a tip regarding two horses for sale in Dunster, BC.

For those of you wondering where the heck Dunster, BC is, it is located southwest of McBride, BC, in the Robson Valley. It is some 240 km east of Prince George and roughly 120 km west of Jasper, Alberta, in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

The two horses are brothers and their potential sale had one condition — they had to stay together. So the Mounted Unit brought the two horses down to be assessed.

So this story is a bit like two country boys coming down from a pretty wild and beautiful part of British Columbia to see if they had what it takes to become “big city” cops. Sergeant Doug McMillan can supply more details regarding the assessment process but basically only one in ten horses make it through our process and become members of the Mounted Unit.

What followed was truly remarkable; both horses, “Turbo” and “Merlin” were selected for the Mounted Unit. This was unprecedented, and of course the two brothers have stayed together. And it just goes to show you that a couple of “country boys” can teach us a few tricks about what it takes to be a “big city cop” after all.

When I heard about the donation from London Drugs, I thought of what the employees had endured on the night of the riot and their heartfelt response to the VPD. It seemed to me that the very least the VPD could do was to re-name one of the horses “London” in recognition and honour of this generous gift from London Drugs.

London Drugs and the Mounted Unit would have a tangible and real reminder every day of  the generosity of the employees and of the company.

And today, on behalf of the Vancouver Police and the Mounted Unit, I want to thank London Drugs very much for this donation.


The VPD Mounted Unit has patrolled Stanley Park and the City of Vancouver with skill and courage for over 100 years. At no time has that skill and courage been more evident than the night of June 15, 2011.

It was the remarkable performance of both officers and horses that ultimately resulted in the fundraising and generous donation from the staff at London Drugs. This donation has allowed us the unique opportunity to purchase two horses.

Police work takes its toll on horses; we are planning to retire two horses in the next year. Turbo and London in a very short time have shown great promise. They have been patrolling in Stanley Park and have been introduced into the West End of the city.

Both horses have a great temperament and they quickly draw a crowd when out in the city. They are not bothered by buses, people or bikes. The only thing that seems to bother them are umbrellas – we will work on that.

The Mounted Unit has a lot of training to do with all the new members in the Unit. We are certainly up to the task and these two magnificent horses are a welcome addition.

Thank you to the staff of London Drugs for honouring the Mounted Unit with their donation and to the Vancouver Police Foundation for their support.


Law enforcement is a critical component of our society. The feeling of safety and security, and the trust that laws will be upheld, are fundamental to our quality of life.

Effective enforcement requires a partnership – mutual respect and understanding – between the police and the community. For police officers to best do their job, they need tools, knowledge, and the support of the community they serve.

The Vancouver Police Foundation seeks to facilitate a closer relationship between the Vancouver Police Department and the community and to fund worthwhile police projects that would not otherwise be funded. This donation by London Drugs for the Mounted Unit is a perfect example of this type of relationship.

We envision a Vancouver where citizens are proud of, and engaged with, their police force. A city where the VPD has the resources it needs to ensure a safer city for us all – so we can not only be secure, but feel secure, in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Today I am encouraging all citizens interested in finding creative solutions to our city’s social and criminal problems to visit and become a member-supporter.

Together we can find funding for programs that save lives, prevent crime, and help apprehend suspects.

By joining the Vancouver Police Foundation, citizens can help the VPD in their mission to go beyond the call.