The West Vancouver Police have proudly served their community for over 111 years.
The District of West Vancouver was incorporated March 15, 1912, and a first District Council was elected in April 6, 1912. Among the early orders of business for the new council was creation of a local police force.
John, Ella Teare with grandson Stan Colpitts -1915
Councillors voted May 7, 1912 to establish the West Vancouver Police and appointed John Teare as the first constable. Just three weeks later on May 28, Council appointed F.H. Kettle as the second constable. Richard D. Jones was named as a third constable in early July.
Someone needed to be in charge, so on July 23, 1912, John Teare was appointed Chief of Police with the following, very austere resolution, “That John Teare be hereby appointed Chief of Police with jurisdiction over all other constables within the Municipality, without salary.” On September 10, 1912 the Municipal Engineer, James Duncan, added constable without salary to his job title.
The first police office was an upstairs room in the original Municipal Hall built in 1912. The Police Department remained in Municipal Hall until the early 1950’s when a new Public Safety Building was completed at 1330 Marine Dr. Police and Fire Services were housed in the building which officially opened on July 9, 1954.
As parsimonious as early police salaries were, so apparently were severance packages. On October 1, 1912 Council dispensed with the services of Constable R.D. Jones, and directed that he be tendered the sum of $5.00 for his past services. Mr. W.B.C. Moodie was appointed to replace him. At the same meeting Council appointed Chief of Police John Teare as Health Officer, Pound Keeper and License Inspector, and offered him a salary of $75.00 per month.
Integration of Police Services prompts a lot of modern day public discussion, but officers on the North Shore have worked closely together throughout the history of West Vancouver Police. On November 5, 1912, the District of North Vancouver requested that the constables of North and West Vancouver be empowered to co-operate with a view to keeping down the dangerous practice of indiscriminate shooting along Capilano Road. Chief Teare was sworn in as a Special Constable for North Vancouver.
In the early days of the Municipality, all police patrolling was done on foot and a rented horse. For short trips out west the constables used the Municipal buses and for more distant points they were provided with a pass on the P.G.E. trains. Thompson Taxi was also used.
In 1917 the Council authorized the sale of the police motorcycle for the purchase of a bicycle and $20.00 in cash. Later, a motorcycle with a sidecar was purchased, a 1922 Indian. In 1934 when Dr. Fred Stainsby (the first resident doctor) died, his Terraplane sedan was acquired as the first police car. On February 21, 1939 the Terraplane sedan was traded in for a new grey Plymouth coach. The last motorcycle before later acquisitions of modern era Harley Davidson’s and now BMW police edition motorcycles, was a 1951 Indian Maroon last ridden by Constable Tom Lightly.
Continued growth of the Municipality soon began to be reflected in the increase in work and staff of both the Police and Fire Departments. A decision was made to separate their joint base of operations. A new fire hall was built and opened on November 22, 1967 at 16th St. and Fulton Ave. An immediate start was then made on major renovations to the then existing Public Safety building resulting in new quarters for the Police Department and Provincial Court, which was officially opened on March 22, 1968.
A second major renovation and addition was completed in 1981 modernizing and expanding the Police Department facility significantly. In 1996, the Provincial Courts were closed and this additional floor space was incorporated into a shared environment for the Police Department and the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.
In 2017, West Vancouver Police moved back to the department’s original homesite, to a new, state-of-the-art, post-disaster-standard police headquarters at 16th St. and Esquimalt Ave.
Today, Chief Constable John Lo leads a West Vancouver Police Department of 100+ people, made up of 79 sworn police members, 20 civilian staff, and 75 community volunteers, operating with a budget of approximately $18.08 million dollars (2022).
The jurisdictional boundaries of the Police Department span 89 square kilometres, running roughly from the Squamish Nation Reserve and Capilano Rd. in the east, to Horseshoe Bay in the west, and north on Highway 99 to the District of West Vancouver boundary at Montizambert Creek, just south of the Village of Lions Bay.
West Vancouver Police continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of the community using intelligence driven crime suppression techniques that result in West Vancouver continuing to be a much desired place to live and visit.