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West Van teens join WVPD youth academy

The teens are getting out of their comfort zone at the top of West Van Fire & Rescue's ladders and in a helicopter with North Shore Rescue.

There are 13 youths in West Vancouver police custody this week – they’re all there by choice.

The lucky 13 have been accepted into the West Vancouver Police Youth Academy, a five-day program that gets them up close and personal with police and sends them home with new leadership skills.

It was started by Const. Nicole Braithwaite in 2021.

The teens get face time with the most visible policing units in Metro Vancouver, including the patrol and traffic sections, the RCMP’s Air 1 helicopter, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) and Integrated Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Service (ICARS). Braithwaite has also called on some of the partner agencies police work closely with, including West Vancouver Fire & Rescue, who sent them up a 100-foot ladder.

“It’s getting kids out of their comfort zones,” she said.

On Monday (Aug 15), the group met up with North Shore Rescue members at their Bone Creek Search and Rescue Station. They were instructed on how the team rigs up for long-line helicopter rescues and they learned from a team doctor how rescuers perform CPR and package a patient for evacuation.

“The coolest part is they got helicopter rides,” she said. “They had an amazing day.”

It’s a tough program to get into, partly because it was only offered for one week this year. Out of 40 applicants, just 13 were accepted. Braithwaite is hoping to take on two classes in 2023.

“The hope is just to build and foster positive relationships with youth,” she said. “Often, you see police in a different way. And policing in West Vancouver is so much more than reactive policing. It’s all about community.”