POLITICS

Adam Palmer replaces Jim Chu as Vancouver police chief

05/25/2015 02:29 EDT | Updated 05/25/2016 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - Former Vancouver police chief Jim Chu leaves behind a lax attitude on marijuana enforcement, along with a term marred by a gang war, a hockey riot and the fall out from a serial killer, and his successor says he'll gladly follow the chief's footprints.

Following Chu will be a big job, admitted incoming chief Adam Palmer, but the legacy will provide guidance, too.

"Jim Chu set a really good footprint for the Vancouver Police Department and I'm happy to keep following that right now," Palmer told reporters after being sworn in on Monday.

Palmer, a 28-year veteran of the force, replaces Chu as Vancouver's top cop after he announced his retirement in January.

Chu led the force since 2007, and had a tumultuous tenure, where he oversaw inquiries into how the force handled the Robert Pickton serial murder investigation, admitted the city was embroiled in a bloody gang war, and acted as his department's public face during the Stanley Cup riot.

He was also known for improving relationships between police and residents of the downtown east side, and violent crime rates fell under his watch.

"Over the past eight years, Chief Jim Chu has helped strengthen and grow the VPD into what I believe is one of the most innovative, responsive and respected police departments in North America," Mayor Gregor Robertson told the crowd assembled for the swearing-in ceremony.

"He has been a tremendous partner for the city of Vancouver, a trusted leader in communities throughout our city and a valued friend."

As his successor was introduced, Chu was recognized for his decades of service, becoming the first municipal police officer in British Columbia to be issued a provincial commission.

The honour recognizes senior members of police departments for their rank, professionalism and dedication to policing, and takes after the military tradition of officer commissions.

Palmer wants to continue making Vancouver's police department the envy of other jurisdictions by finding "made-in-Vancouver solutions" that allow officers to police the city fairly, and with compassion and respect for all.

"That's my promise to the community," he told the crowd.

Palmer said his two immediate priorities are building and maintaining connections with the community and meeting with front line officers.

There will be challenges too, he recognized, including addressing social issues such as mental illness.

When difficult situations arise, the new chief will still be able to look towards his mentor — Chu.

"I always appreciate his advice," Palmer said with a smile. "So I'll know how to contact him."

Following the swearing in ceremony, the new chief said he was simply feeling honoured and elated to be chosen for his new role.

Born and raised in Vancouver, Palmer said he had dreamed of being a police officer since he was a little boy.

"I never thought I'd be chief of police," he said. "It never really crossed my mind."