Vancouver Police Department Cst. Steve Addison (inset) – a former reporter at the Peace Arch News – has started a blog detailing his experiences walking the beat on the Downtown Eastside.

Vancouver Police Department Cst. Steve Addison (inset) – a former reporter at the Peace Arch News – has started a blog detailing his experiences walking the beat on the Downtown Eastside.

Blogging on the beat

Former Peace Arch News reporter Steve Addison writes about policing Vancouver's toughest neighbourhood

Before he became a police officer walking the beat on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Cst. Steve Addison thought he knew just how tough a place the neighbourhood was.

But it wasn’t until he actually began working there in 2007 – a year after leaving a successful journalism career with Peace Arch News – that the then-rookie constable with the Vancouver Police Department truly got a sense for the place, fraught as it is with drug addiction, crime and violence.

Now, Addison is hoping to bring some of his experiences to the public in the form of a new blog, Eastside Stories, which he started this month on the VPD website.

“The blog is an idea that had been floating around in my head for a while, since I started really,” said Addison, who works on the Downtown Eastside’s Beat Enforcement Team.

“I’m probably never going to work in a place like this ever again – it’s one of the most unique policing environments in North America.

“There’s a million other things to do in the police department, and if I’m never going to work in a place like this again, I figured I should document it, at least for myself, if nothing else.”

Last spring, Addison finally broached the idea of writing a blog with his bosses, who were intrigued, and approved it.

“When I left the Peace Arch News, everyone kept saying, ‘you should write about what it’s like being a cop.’ But I didn’t feel it was appropriate to do it right away.

“There’s a pretty steep learning curve when you become a cop, and even more so when you’re a rookie on the Downtown Eastside, and I don’t think anyone wants to read what a guy two weeks out of the police academy thinks.”

But now that he’s been walking the beat for a few years, Addison has a pretty good grasp on the area and its people. And the reality is, it’s far worse than what you might see on TV.

“Speaking from my own experience, you think you know, but you don’t. You don’t get a good enough idea of the people and what it’s like unless you’re down here… you walk around, you smell it, you experience it firsthand,’ he said.

In his blog, Addison writes about alleys smelling of urine and human feces, addicts ravaged by drug addiction and mental illness, and small rooming houses infested with rats and bugs.

“I see the worst moments of humanity and have a front row seat to people at their lowest,” he writes in one entry.

Even in the first few posts on Eastside Stories, it’s evident that Addison and his VDP colleagues go to great lengths to form relationships with many of the area’s residents – helping them when they can, being compassionate when the situation calls for it, all while protecting the public and upholding the law.

“There are so many drug dealers and so many addicts, and there’s not enough (police officers) to arrest them all, so we do use some discretion,” he said. “That’s not to say we’re easy on people – there are people here who need to be arrested, and we arrest them.

“You just try not to make it personal. There are people getting in trouble who we deal with all the time – we know who the frequent fliers are – but they understand we have a job to do, and sometimes I’m going to have to put the handcuffs on them.

“But if you treat people with respect, you’ll get respect back.”

The challenge, Addison said, will be to keep the blog updated enough to keep readers coming back.

“I’m not much of a diary keeper, but if you have an audience, you want to do as good a job as you can. The blogs that I always return to are the ones that are updated regularly,” he said. “When you create something like this, you’ve got to feed the beast.”

What Addison says the blog won’t become is his own soapbox, where he’ll voice personal opinions on subjects surrounding the Downtown Eastside – like safe-injection site, Insite, for example – simply to stir up debate.

“Debate is great, because it effects change, but I don’t think I have to be controversial. This place is controversial enough, so just mentioning the word ‘Insite’ will get people talking without me having to say anything else,” he said.

“I don’t have to be the guy who stokes the fire. Instead, I’ll chop the kindling, I’ll crumple up the newspapers, and I’ll leave the matches on the table for someone else.”

Addison’s blog, Eastside Stories, can be found at www.beatcopdiary.vpd.ca

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Welcome to your park sign marks the spot where 84th Avenue will continue east from King George Boulevard 
to 140th Street as part of a $13 million road project. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Road Rage: Opposition mounts anew to Surrey’s plan for 84 Ave. south of Bear Creek Park

Same place, same project, same fight as Surrey prepares once again to connect 84th Avenue between King George and 140th Street in Newton

The Surrey Board of Trade has launched a new ‘Say Yes to the Vaccine’ campaign. (File photo)
Surrey Board of Trade launches campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccination

Vaccinations are the only solution to re-opening the econony, says board

South Surrey senior Marnie Allard is this year’s honoree in the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey senior honoured in 2021 Alzheimer’s walk

Marnie Allard is living with posterior cortical atrophy

The recently-formed Heron Hospice Society of Delta will offer compassionate end-of life programs for individuals and families experiencing grief and loss, and aims to support the recently reopened Irene Thomas Hospice, according to a release issued Tuesday, April 20. (Heron Hospice Society of Delta/Facebook photo)
New society to support hospice care in Delta

Heron Hospice Society of Delta “will embrace all end-of-life choices,” says president Chris Pettypiece

The volume of visitors to White Rock’s Marine Drive over the weekend has led council to consider special measures this week. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock council rejects resident-only parking for waterfront

Other health and safety measures to be considered in a special meeting Wednesday

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Cash seized in a 2018 RCMP drug bust in the Lower Mainland. (Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP-led drug investigation nets charges for 4 in Lower Mainland

Cops seized 12 kilograms of MDMA and $380K executing several search warrants in the Lower Mainland in 2018

..
Abbotsford nurse at ‘breaking point’ pleads with public to take COVID-19 seriously

Instagram post urges general population to stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A native-to-B.C. wild queen bee (bombus melanopygus for those in the know) feeds on a periwinkle flower. (Submitted/Sarah Johnson, Native Bee Society of BC)
B.C.’s wild bees need messy gardens to survive

The year-long nesting period makes habitat a primary concern for wild bees

Westbound Highway 1 traffic near Herrling Island is backed up a long way following a vehicle incident. (Photo/Trish Dunbar)
Pedestrian killed in crash near Agassiz

Woman in her 50s struck by moving van

FILE – Health-care workers wave to people clapping and yelling thank you to the frontline workers during the 7 p.m.-tribute outside the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. nurses issue plea for all to follow health orders as hospitalizations spike

Nurses worried about strain COVID-19 is having on hospital capacity, care

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

Lawsuit filed last summer accused Barney Williams of verbal abuse

Most Read