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Is New West's police department more diverse than other cities?

New West police board member supports getting more information showing how the NWPD represents – or doesn’t represent – the community it serves.
New Westminster police betters the national average when it comes to cultural diversity and the number female-identifying officers.

The New Westminster Police Department exceeds the national average when it comes to cultural diversity and the number of officers who identify as female.

At its February meeting, the police board received a 2024 human resources report that provided information about the current state of the NWPD’s staffing, recruiting and related HR issues. It noted the department has 38 full-time civilian staff members and 153 police officers.

“Of the 153 current sworn members, 27 per cent (42) identify as female (Canadian national average is 23 per cent) while 26 per cent (40) are culturally diverse (national average is eight per cent),” said the report. “The gender and cultural numbers should continue to increase given our focus on diversity in hiring at the recruit level.”

Of the 67 sworn members hired since January 2019, 31.3 per cent identify as female, while 36 per cent are culturally diverse, said the report.

According to the report, 82 per cent (31) of the 38 civilian full-time staff members identify as female, while 55 per cent (21) are culturally diverse.

Police board member Mary Trentadue said she’d like to get a bit more of an understanding about the staffing demographics of the police department.

“It feels a tiny bit, I guess old-school, to have it only broken down into gender and ethnicity,” she said. “And I am wondering if we have ever considered any further breakdown of the staffing demographics, whether it’s, maybe, languages spoken, actual ethnicity, and sexual orientation, any of the other things?”

Trentadue questioned if the police department collects additional demographic details about its employees.

Chief Const. Dave Jansen said the police department hasn’t captured that data in the past, but it’s something that can be done with its new human resources software program.

“But, obviously, there is also sensitivities about the information we are allowed to ask,” he said. “So we are starting out with the ones you have there. We still have not completely gone through that process yet.”

As the police department works with the new HR program and gets its new HR manager, Jansen said he expects that some of those categories could be expanded.

“Right now, folks are self-identifying within there,” he explained. “So that probably is how we will roll it out as we continue down this path. But right now, that is the only data we have.”

Trentadue said she thinks it would be beneficial to have a deeper insight into the department’s staff to understand how its membership represents – or doesn’t represent – the community.

“I just think that if we are collecting that data about the community, it would be really helpful to understand what the force also looks like, and how our membership reflects the community that they are serving in; whether they do or don’t reflect it,” she said. “I just think more information about the members would be really useful.”

Trentadue said additional information could also be helpful when it comes to recruiting new police officers.

“When we are doing a recruitment, what type of members are we hoping to recruit? Where are there some gaps?” she said. “That’s why I’m asking, why I think it’s useful.”

The report to the police board also included information about the police department’s recruitment plans for 2024.

For 2024, the recruiting team anticipates hiring 12 to 14 recruits based on anticipated attrition, said the report.

“This is a bit of a moving figure as we are unable to accurately predict attrition to other police agencies,” said the report. “Again, the challenge that we face is the fact it takes a new recruit about 10 months to complete their Police Academy training and become fully operational. Given this, unanticipated vacancies are often filled by bringing on experience members who can begin working operationally much quicker.”

At the meeting, Chief Const. Dave Jansen noted the NWPD has lost several members to the RCMP this year. You can read about that in this report by the Record.

Human resources

The report also detailed the status of the 154 sworn members (police officers) of the New Westminster Police Department.

As of February 2024, the NWPD had 154 sworn members but a “core policing strength” of 121. (See below for more details.)

Of its contingent of sworn members, 93 are fully operational. Here’s the status of the rest:  two are operational with restrictions;  nine are non-operational (WorksafeBC/sick/long-term injury); 11 are police recruits in training; one is on retirement leave; four are on maternity/paternity leave; one has been suspended with pay – one; and four are allocated to the provincially funded Gang Suppression Unit.

In addition, 29 NWPD members aren’t currently working at the local police station as they’ve been seconded to work in a wide range of regional, provincial and federal units:

  • Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit – five
  • Federal Serious Organized Crime – five
  • Integrated Road Safety Unit – four
  • Integrated LMD Police Service Dog Team – three
  • Integrated Homicide Investigations Unit (IHIT) – two
  • Municipal Undercover Unit – two
  • Integrated LMD Emergency Response Team – one
  • Real Time Information Centre – one
  • National Weapons Enforcement Team – one
  • Provincial Tech Crimes Unit – one
  • Provincial Hate Crime Unit – one
  • Integrated Auto theft Unit – one
  • Integrated Collision Analysis/Reconstruction Unit – one
  • Metro Transit Police – one
  • E-INSET National Security Unit – 0

In an email to the Record, the New Westminster Police Department explained some of the categories within the report:

A sworn member is a police officer. (The sworn part refers to the oath that is sworn when they join our department as a police officer.)

Core policing strength is the number of sworn members allotted for, as per the NWPD budget.

Fully operational is a police officer who has no restrictions in what duties they can do.