'Whistling' Bernie Smith Dead: Vancouver Police Beat Cop Left Impression

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A blunt-spoken, whistling beat cop on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside who was the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary has died.

'Whistling' Bernie Smith had a "razor-sharp wit and a photographic memory," said Vancouver police Chief Const. Jim Chu in a news release on Thursday. "He was the best-known VPD officer of his time."

In 1975, the National Film Board produced a 27-minute documentary about how Smith's unconventional policing methods cut his beat's crime rate in half.

Smith patrolled an area known for Canada's highest concentration of "rubby-dubs, drug addicts, smugglers and prostitutes," according to the NFB documentary. Smith's tough, unorthodox methods included getting troublemakers to move elsewhere.

In one scene, Smith bluntly asks a man crossing the street: "What are you doing on my beat? I thought I told you to stay off my beat? You're clean today, but by 6 o'clock now you'll be spinning."

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short in 1976.

Smith retired as a sergeant from the force in April 1979. He was reportedly 89 when he died, reported News 1130.

Here is a song Smith wrote and recorded about front-line officers.

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'Whistling' Bernie Smith, legendary VPD beat cop, dead at 89