In the Media


CBC News : ‘Odd Squad’ cops say prevention, not more harm reduction, needed for fentanyl crisis

“I don’t support elements of harm reduction that are legalizers in sheep’s clothing there,” says a retired police officer who served for many years on the Downtown Eastside. He’s part of the Odd Squad, a group that works on drug abuse prevention.

Read the original story on CBC: www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/fentanyl-overdose-vancouver-odd-squad-1.3962727


Blush Article about the “Odd Christmas Party”

Original article: blushvancouver.com/the-odd-christmas-party-an-evening-with-jim-byrnes/ Whether you have heard of them yet or not, Odd Squad members have been making a difference in our city’s most troubled area since 1997. A group of concerned Down Town East Side (DTES) beat cops decided to “take something out of that sordid mess that we were tasked with policing and make it positive” was how founding member and new Executive Director, Tobin Hinton, described the beginning. Operating as a charitable entity, the group does not receive any funding or financial support from the Vancouver Police Department and the contributors are made up of police officers, retired officers, and volunteers. This year’s annual Christmas fundraiser was held at Central City on Beatty Street and it was packed. Whether you have heard of them yet or not, Odd Squad members have been making a difference in our city’s most troubled area since 1997. A group of concerned Down Town East Side (DTES) beat cops decided to “take something out of that sordid mess that we were tasked with policing and make it positive” was how founding member and new Executive Director, Tobin Hinton, described the beginning. Operating as a charitable entity, the group does not receive any […]


North Stars to partner with RCMP against drug abuse

Battlefords North Stars hockey team is starting a joint initiative with RCMP in Project First Goal to educate children against drug abuse. The project will see members of the North Stars travelling to Vancouver to see first hand the consequences of drug abuse, touring the downtown east side with the Odd Squad. The players will document their tour and bring back what they see and hear to local schools. The Regina Pats and the Saskatoon Blades are involved in this project. Read more at: www.newsoptimist.ca/…


End Gang Life: Myths & Realities

Doug Charlton spoke at a press conference today as Executive Director of Odd Squad and Producer of the End Gang Life: Myths and Realities video modules. Within a couple of hours of the official launch, the project is already having a huge impact and receiving national recognition. _____ We launched the videos this morning at a press conference and the story and the videos have already “gone national”. You’ll see it featured on local news over the next day or so, as well as some of the national news programs like CTV Newsnet. If the reaction over the last couple hours is any indication of the impact that these videos will have, I am positive that we will make a difference in the lives of many. In just a few short hours I’ve received calls and emails from the RCMP National Youth Services Section, the National Crime Prevention Centre, the national School Action of Emergencies (SAFE), and even the Ottawa Police Service. — Sergeant Lindsey Houghton, Media Relations Office, Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit – BC Watch Videos


Eastside Stories: Diary of a Vancouver Beat Cop – ‘She made her decision, and it was the wrong one’

Posted by Steve Five days past her 18th birthday, she was hooting on a crack pipe near the corner of Hastings and Columbia. She tossed the glass pipe to the pavement as we approached and tried to blend in with the crowd. “Please don’t arrest me,” the pretty redhead pleaded as I grabbed her arm to prevent her from running away. “Don’t worry,” I said. “I just want to talk to you.” My god, she looked young. Dressed in jean shorts and a button-up shirt that was tied in a knot just above the belly button, she looked like she should have been riding a tire swing at the family cottage, not getting high on Hastings Street. Though her hair was unwashed and her face was breaking out in sores, I could tell she was still early in her suffering. The addiction hadn’t fully taken control of her. I wanted to help her. We talked as I ran the girl’s name through the police database. Her story reminded me that addiction does not discriminate between race, gender or class. The product of a tony West Vancouver neighbourhood, she began experimenting with hallucinogens — magic mushrooms and LSD — at age 15. […]


THE BEAT Season 2 Premieres Sunday July 29 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT

Airing: Season 2 Premieres Sunday July 29 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT Never before have television cameras had unlimited access to the police that patrol Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, one of the most controversial neighborhoods in North America. The Beat is a ten-part docu-soap series that presents a gritty, behindthe-scenes look at the challenges faced by The Beat Enforcement Team’s Squad Three, as they tirelessly work to maintain order in a community crippled by poverty, drug addiction and mental illness. Drawn from hundreds of hours of footage, shot night and day over six full months, The Beat captures every corner and crevasse of the Downtown Eastside’s 12 square blocks. See rooming house raids, undercover sting operations, stakeouts, petty thieves and major drug gangs being brought to justice in a neighborhood that’s home to an estimated 5,000 hardcore drug users and a population with the highest HIV infection rate in the developed world. The Beat also offers a glimpse at the officers away from their daily patrols, where the rigors of work are balanced with the pleasures of family life. Click here to visit the OLN Website


Eastside Stories: Diary of a Vancouver Beat Cop – ‘No easy answers’

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Steve A young hipster in skinny jeans and a plaid shirt stopped me on West Hastings Street the other day. “So, when are you gonna start arresting some of the drug dealers out here?” he asked. It was a bit of a sarcastic comment, so I dished a little of the same back his way. “Sure,” I said. “You point ‘em out to me and I’ll go arrest them.” We were standing outside the Burns Block, a century-old building and former low-income hotel that was recently converted into 30 “micro-lofts.” It’s part of the so-called gentrification of the Downtown Eastside. This hipster had apparently just moved into the area, likely wanting to live in Vancouver’s edgiest neighbourhood, but perhaps not quite realizing his front door was just steps away from ground zero in the city’s open-air drug market. ‘They’re everywhere,” he said. “I walk down the street and all I get is people trying to sell me drugs.” Despite the cheekiness of our initial exchange, I could tell he was genuine. I empathized with his frustration. He felt like the police were not doing enough to deal with the drug problem in the area. Looking around at […]


Odd Squad Productions celebrates 15th anniversary in style

By Kelly Marion Photos by Kelly J Marion –> @kellyjean247 Odd Squad Productions (OSP) held their 15th Annual Fundraiser Gala this month and sold out at over 1000 guests. The Vancouver Convention Centre was overflowing with black ties and evening gowns, with everyone looking chic as they perused the silent auction and sipped on a glass of wine. The large support was shown through people of all ages, social statuses and races including many from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD). What began as a community of volunteer police offers determined to beat work on the East side of Vancouver in 1997, is now an organization at the forefront as a highly regarded resource directed at prevention education and awareness for youth. They began using the scare tactic with the debut of their award-winning “Through a Blue Lens” production. Take a moment to watch the film and you’ll understand the effect it can have. Since then, they have grown to incorporate many educational videos and peer-to-peer programs in an effort to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble. After a walk down the red carpet with the VPD lining each side, the night unfolded in to an evening of entertainment, education and eating. There was a special marine […]


VANCOUVER DAZE VOL. 73: 15TH ANNIVERSARY ODD SQUAD GALA

Volume 73 of Vancouver Is Awesome: POSTED BY RICK CHUNG 15th anniversary Odd Squad Gala at Vancouver Convention Centre West on June 7, 2012. Hashtag: #OddSquadGala. More photos available on Flickr. The Odd Squad celebrated fifteen years with their annual gala. For the unaware, TOS is a local organization started to keep troubled youth off the street and away from drugs, gangs, and violence. I had no idea of the strong Vancouver PD association. The night’s gala affair included special guests like Winnipeg Jets player Evander Kane, Mayor Gregor Robertson, Chief Constable Jim Chu, board memberJim Byrnes, and other local celebrities. TOS includes a strong documentary program, producing an Oscar-nominated short on policeman Whistling Smith as well as peer-to-peer component, and talks from reformed gang members. I was curious about the whole “odd” theme and moniker, considering the VPD association. Evidently, it started from a saying and even including a musical set from The Odds. The night included some special entertainment from dragon dancers, a boat show, vintage car display, and host of other entertainment. The celebration brought together a few of the higher aspects of local charity, reminding us to do our part, support good causes, and never forget to improve our surroundings and contribute to our society.


Drug presentation & DTES walk-about

Leave a comment ‘Behind the Blue Line’ » By: sandra@behindtheblueline.ca Two Friday’s ago, the Odd Squad gave their drug presentation to my daughter’s sports team to provide the girls a basic understanding about the hazards of drug use. The presentation was the same provided to high schools but was tailored to the small group, which was ideal as the girls were in their peer environment. In addition to the officers giving the talk, hubby and I were also there – me in uniform, and hubby as a chaperone – but we left the room when it came time for Q&A so the girls would feel comfortable asking whatever questions they needed to ask.   Apparently, they asked some excellent questions. The officers giving the talk weren’t sworn to secrecy; they were respecting the girls and allowing them the freedom of unfettered curiosity so I’m not sure of the exact questions, but what was clear was this – even though they have heard about cocaine and heroin, the girls showed their naivety and innocence by not knowing what the drugs actually were, and their questions focused more around drinking and cigarettes. In the end, we, as parents and educators, cannot make decisions for our children, […]


ODD SQUAD Experience by Brittany Schussler

by Brittany Schussler | Skating | Long Track Click here for the original ‘SportCafe’ post This week I was fortunate to have the eye-opening experience of taking a trip to downtown Vancouver with the ODD Squad. The Odd Squad is a group of police officers who are using their experiences in the East area of Vancouver, one of the most drug and crime ridden areas in North America, to educate youth about the dangers of drug addiction. The Odd Squad has been operating for 15 years and has made a handful of documentaries about their experiences. They also take people such as myself with them to walk around the area and get the full experience in order to be able to share it with people in their community. My night with the Odd Squad began with a 90 minute presentation about why the program exists and what we should be prepared to see. The presentation made me nervous, to say the least. The most experience I have with drugs is seeing other kids smoking joints at high school parties. So, to go out on the street and talk to someone smoking from a crack pipe is beyond shocking. The video presentation […]


Olympians on east side Athletes promote healthy living, learn about issues

          BY TERRY BELL, THE PROVINCE Christine Nesbitt came to Vancouver 28 months ago and left town with a 2010 Olympic speedskating gold medal hanging around her neck. On Wednesday Nesbitt is returning to Vancouver with some of her Calgary-based teammates for a close-up look at the city’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. The visit is part of a program run by the Odd Squad Production Society, a non-profit group established in 1997 by a group of retired and current Vancouver police officers. Its goal is to “design programs that honour and motivate youth, encourage them to set positive goals, lay their own path and stay On Track by keeping drug-free for a long and healthy life.” For several years Odd Squad has been offering the program to a number of junior hockey teams but this will be the first involvement by Olympic athletes. Chris Graham, a founding member and Director of Peer-to-Peer programs, is ecstatic. “One of the things that’s been on our mind for a long time is that there’s a lot of girls involved in gang activity and drug trafficking and poor relationships,” Graham, a retired Vancouver policeman, said Tuesday. “We’re not able to deal […]


Quest for fame move gang wars from back alleys into the open

Stephanie Levitz  OTTAWA – Toronto police called the shooter who opened fire in a downtown mall Saturday “one idiot with a gun.” But some gang experts argue public shootings like the one at the Eaton Centre that left one man dead and several other people wounded are part of an effort by gang leaders to make themselves look like anything but idiots. Gangs are increasingly taking their fights public to gain fame and notoriety, said Const. Doug Spencer, a Vancouver transit police officer who works with the city’s Odd Squad Productions Society on crime prevention. Public shootings are designed to send a message, Spencer said. “They say if they’ll do it there, they’ll do it anywhere, you don’t want to mess with those guys, they’re crazy, and that’s the reputation they want.” Spencer said Vancouver-area police began noticing a change in gang activity about three or four years ago when fights that used to be waged in back alleys suddenly burst onto public streets. In 2007, six people were killed at a Surrey, B.C., apartment. Four had criminal connections, but two were innocents in the wrong place at the wrong time. Since then, B.C. police have been called to shootings […]


National speed skating and alpine skiing athletes team-up with Vancouver’s Odd Squad

Posted by Speed Skating Canada CALGARY – Canadian team national team and Olympic athletes Jan Hudec, Canada’s leading downhill skier, and speed skaters Jamie Gregg, Cindy Klassen, Christine Nesbitt and Brittany Schussler will team-up with Vancouver’s Odd Squad Productions Society on Wednesday, June 6 for a presentation and learning experience, and attend the 2012 Odd Squad Gala Fundraiser on Thursday, June 7. The five athletes will join 10 Calgary-area business executives at the Odd Squad’s Vancouver office for a presentation on Wednesday. They will then be divided into groups of five for a two-hour experience of Vancouver’s downtown east district. On Thursday, the athletes will attend the 15th annual Odd Squad Gala Fundraiser at the Vancouver Convention Centre (see event news release). Since 1997, the Odd Squad has been dedicated to educating the public of the devastating effects that high-risk behavior has on members of our community. Their peer-to-peer workshops have included a Hockey Mentor Program with several Western Hockey League teams. Visit their website for additional information on their programs – click here.


Odd Squad Productions Celebrates Its 15th Anniversary

For Immediate Release                                                                            (Vancouver, BC) –Vancouver’s Odd Squad Productions Society (OSP) celebrates a memorable 15th milestone of empowering youth though film documentaries and educational programs. The prestigious 2012 Odd Squad Gala Fundraiser is taking place at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Thursday, June 7th starting at 5:00 pm. Presented by CIBC Wood Gundy At Bentall, and supported by an astounding 50 corporate sponsors, the evening begins with a cocktail reception and Mayor Gregor Robertson in attendance. Other highlights include speeches by select youth, a unique Silent Auction, a formal sit-down dinner, a Live Auction with celebrated auctioneer Howard Blank and special guest Steven Seagal. Vancouver’s Odds, with Craig Northy as musical director, will serve as the house band. 100% of the proceeds will be put towards creating more documentaries and developing awareness campaigns for youth about the dangers of drug use and criminal behaviour. Undoubtedly, the OSP is passionate about their work. This grassroots initiative started with a few Vancouver Police Officers who […]


The Harsh Reality of Drug Use in Vancouver: A Presentation by Laura, Gr. 10

Laura, Gr. 10, just completed an interactive training session with Odd Squad Productions ON TRACK peer to peer program. Laura had the chance to train with VPD officers and hear real-life stories from drug addicts on the street. On May 2, 2012 she talked to students & staff about the realities of drug use in Vancouver: Click here to WATCH the video presentation


Legalized Drugs: Dumber Than You May Think

Author | John P. Walters Even smart people make mistakes​—​sometimes surprisingly large ones. A current example is drug legalization, which way too many smart people consider a good idea. They offer three bad arguments. First, they contend, “the drug war has failed”​—​despite years of effort we have been unable to reduce the drug problem. Actually, as imperfect as surveys may be, they present overwhelming evidence that the drug problem is growing smaller and has fallen in response to known, effective measures. Americans use illegal drugs at substantially lower rates than when systematic measurement began in 1979​—​down almost 40 percent. Marijuana use is down by almost half since its peak in the late 1970s, and cocaine use is down by 80 percent since its peak in the mid-1980s. Serious challenges with crack, meth, and prescription drug abuse have not changed the broad overall trend: Drug use has declined for the last 40 years, as has drug crime. The decades of decline coincide with tougher laws, popular disapproval of drug use, and powerful demand reduction measures such as drug treatment in the criminal justice system and drug testing. The drop also tracks successful attacks on supply​—​as in the reduction of cocaine production in Colombia and the […]


Odd Squad’s On Track – Press Release

For Immediate Release            (Vancouver, BC) – Empowering youth to become role models for their peers and mentors for the younger generations to come- the motto for the Odd Squad Productions Society’s (OSP) annual peer mentoring workshop. On Saturday, April 28, 2012, forty Grade 10 students nominated across the Lower Mainland will engage in this one-day interactive workshop with volunteer officers from the Vancouver Police Department and Odd Squad Productions Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to prevention education for youth. An exceptional learning program, ON TRACK exposes participants to the harsh realities of drug use, addiction, and criminal lifestyle through interactions with police officers and street-entrenched people. Youth walk away educated with lifelong lessons that enable them to mentor their peers through school presentations about the realities they have learned. Agenda Saturday, April 28th 2012 from 10 AM – 10 PM: Interactive workshop at the new VPD Tactical Training Centre in downtown Vancouver Welcome by VPD Chief Jim Chu Morning presentations dedicated to gang and drug awareness by expert squad members Afternoon interaction with emergency response (ERT), dog squad training, and Marine Squad boat rides Late afternoon participation in a VPD Judo Club class Evening walk-about escorted by beat […]


Cocaine new drug of choice of Coast youth

CHRISTINE WOOD/STAFF WRITER             IMAGE: Vancouver police officers and Odd Squad founding members Sgt. Toby Hinton and Sgt. Mark Steinkampf (back) stand with Sunshine Coast Youth Crime Prevention Program co-ordinator Charlene Smith after the April 19 Odd Squad presentation for parents in Sechelt. Smoking pot has become as common as smoking cigarettes among Coast youth who are now turning to cocaine to get high. “Cocaine’s number one. Then there’s ecstasy, which is down-graded (due to the PMMA scare). We do see hallucinogens, and pot is something just everybody does. It’s like cigarettes here,” said Youth Crime Prevention Program co-ordinator Charlene Smith during an Odd Squad presentation in Sechelt last week. “Other than that there are the odd people who use mushrooms, there’s acid, ketamine and every once in a while you do see crystal meth and crack cocaine.” The smorgasbord of hard drugs available to Coast youth was a surprise to many in attendance at the April 19 Odd Squad presentation for parents at the Seaside Centre. “As crazy as it seems, your kids and everybody else’s kids are getting approached with drugs and alcohol maybe not on a daily basis, but on a weekly […]