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How a community-first approach makes a difference for Transit Police

How a community-first approach makes a difference for Transit Police

Jenny Chung at a community event in 2019.
Jenny Chung at a community event in 2019.

This May we’ve been championing some of our employees across the TransLink network to celebrate Asian Heritage Month. Our diversity is one of our major strengths as a company and we’re beyond happy to bring attention to success stories across the enterprise of employees of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

When Constable Jenny Chung’s mother decided to immigrate to Canada with her young family, she was searching for a better life for all of them. Leaving South Korea, she saw bigger and better opportunities for her two children. When they arrived, it was difficult to settle, they knew no-one, and the language barrier proved difficult to break.

But now, years later, Jenny Chung is grateful for the experience and the sacrifices her family made in order to allow her the opportunity to pursue a life in Canada. She says her experiences allow her to relate to so many other immigrants in Metro Vancouver, “Being an Asian-Canadian who works as a police officer in Canada, I share my experience with other new immigrants who are trying to build something for themselves” she said.

As one of 183 Transit Police Officers in Metro Vancouver, Jenny helps police efforts all across the Lower Mainland. But as a Neighbourhood Police Officer (NPO) and part of Transit Police’s Community Engagement Team, she worked primarily in the Burnaby/Coquitlam area. Her time as an NPO allowed her to build various networks within the large Korean Community in the area. She says those networks opened opportunities for her to feel comfortable approaching groups to share information about Transit Police, safety tips, and safety features on the transit system.

One of the highlights from Jenny’s time as a Neighbourhood Police Officer was when she had the opportunity to tour the new Evergreen extension to Port Moody with a group of preschoolers.

Cst. Jenny Chung watches over a SkyTrain car in 2018.
Cst. Jenny Chung watches over a SkyTrain car in 2018.

“We rode the train from Inlet Station to Lafarge-Douglas College Station to Burquitlam Station while showing safety features of our transit system and exploring various artworks at different stations. It was a lot of fun as everyone enjoyed the tour and it was a great opportunity for me to show the kids that police officers are here to help and are approachable.”

Jenny managed to make such a large impact on the children during the trip that she was recognized by one of them at Car Free Day in Port Moody a year later.

“He was very excited to see me there and ran over to my booth. But he was also shy to talk to me, so his parents had to explain to me that he had recognized me from far away and wanted to come say hi. It was a moment where I went ‘Aww’ and thought it was very cute”

This type of approach comes from Transit Police’s Community Policing Model, which prioritizes building trust and getting to know people, increasing collaboration with passengers, businesses and staff while still protecting vulnerable people and preventing crime. Jenny’s Korean language skills allow her to be a valuable member of the Transit Police team in this regard, she says she’s been able to assist numerous times by translating for community members or providing comfort to victims. One incident that’s stuck with her made a huge difference.

“There is one file that sticks in my mind which was a file involving a young Korean international student who was in Vancouver to study English. I had helped the Lead Investigators with taking a victim statement in Korean. She was quite traumatized from the incident she had on the system and she burst into tears when I started to speak Korean to her. She later thanked me for treating her like a younger sister and stated she felt more comfortable talking to a Korean female officer about her incident. I was glad that I was able to help her feel at ease and was able to provide her a positive experience of police officers in Canada.”

Constable Jenny Chung was able to make a huge difference in a compromising moment for someone who needed help. Transit Police is able to serve Metro Vancouver due to their diversity, not only in skill sets but culturally as well.

Follow Constable Jenny Chung on Twitter and Instagram.