Posted December 28, 2008 by Adam Toren in Blogs

One on One with Sergeant Shinder Kirk

img_6298-copyA look at Sgt. Shinder Kirk on one of his frequent television news appearances gives you the side the public sees-a police officer poised, professional and polite. But Sgt. Kirk has one of the toughest jobs in policing, speaking on behalf of the BC Integrated Gang Task Force.

Now in his 29th year of policing, the past four years with the Task Force, Sgt. Kirk has come a long way since his days on a motorcycle as a traffic officer. Now, he is not only one of the top police officers in Canada, but also a caring mentor to high school kids. One of four children raised in Richmond, Sgt. Kirk currently resides in Abbotsford with wife Wendy and their two daughters.

So how does a high-profile cop handle the pressures of dealing with the Lower Mainland’s massive gang problems and still find time to help local kids and pursue his passion for motorcycles? Vancouver View Magazine sat down with him to talk about it all.

Vancouver View: “You are one of the most prominent and most recognizable faces in policing. How did you go from dealing with traffic to the media?”

Sgt. Kirk: “Prominent and recognizable! That can’t possibly be the case because I have never considered myself either of those. In fact my wife says I have a good face for radio-what does that tell you? (laughs) But I guess you want the truth on how I got into this aspect of policing, as opposed to some fanciful tale on how I’ve always thought about a media career. Well, here is the truth. There came an opportunity to be the backup to the then-media officer for the Abbotsford Police Department. At the time I was in traffic enforcement, which meant I had the pleasure of riding a motorcycle during the course of my duties, and if you didn’t know this, I’m a motorcycle junkie. You know, the wind blowing in your hair and face, and of course the freedom of motoring on two wheels.

That was in the latter months of 1999 and on occasion I got the call to replace the media officer during holidays and such. It was then that the now-retired Chief asked if I would consider taking the position full time. I foolishly agreed, thinking that it might happen a couple of years down the road, but no sooner did I agree than I found myself in the hot seat.

Seriously, it was an aspect of policing that I thought I would never have an opportunity to experience, given that most of my career to that point had been spent in one operational capacity or another. The transition to the position was essentially positive, but definitely a challenge given where I was coming from. I don’t have any regrets whatsoever, even when I think back on some of the tough questions I have had to face over the years.”

VV:  Recently you’ve taken on a new role on a new level-tell us about that.

img_6273-copySgt. Kirk: “My role is essentially the same; what is different is that now my audience is international in scope as opposed to just one community. I have also been able to expand both my personal and professional boundaries; specifically, I’m not restricted to just dealing with the media, but have been afforded the opportunity to meet and interact with law enforcement, local governments and more importantly people from across North America.

At the time I was asked to become part of the BC Integrated Gang Task Force I had no idea of the depth and scope of the gang problem facing society not only here in BC, but all across the globe. And how a lifestyle that has little or no longevity is and continues to be such an attraction for men and women from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds.”
VV: What are a few things people might not know about you?

Sgt. Kirk: “Boy, having been in the public eye for so many years I didn’t think that there was anything left to hide. Well, I bet people didn’t know that I love children, that I’m an environmentalist at heart, love to ride motorcycles-especially when my wife accompanies me-that I read constantly, anything and everything from the back of cereal boxes to historical fiction. I’m a history buff, I love being near the ocean, farming, and the list could go on and on. I also enjoy meeting and talking to people, and most of all I value and cherish the time I spend with my wife and family.”

img_6279-copy VV: If you could change a few things about the way crime is reported in the news, what would you change?

Sgt. Kirk: “There is only one thing that jumps to mind, and while a few reporters have done it in the past there is not enough of it. We all know that there are always several sides to a tragedy, such as a murder or serious assault; what we don’t routinely hear are the stories of the secondary victims: family, friends and children of the victims. Nor do we hear about the efforts of communities to address issues that may lead to crime. I must admit that I was one of those officers that believed, based on the words of some older colleagues, that the media was not to be trusted and weren’t worthy of consideration. I’m not ashamed to admit, that soon after taking on the media officer role full time, I came to the realization that reporters were professionals too, and thus had a job to do. So I made it my goal to get to know them a little bit on a personal level, and in turn I introduced them to my family to give them a different perspective on police officers. I’m happy to say that as a result of that interaction I consider some of those reporters as acquaintances, even friends. I know that sounds a little presumptuous, but that’s the truth of it.”

VV:  What project are you most proud to have been a part of?

Sgt. Kirk: “Wow, that’s a good question. I don’t keep track of things like that. There is one project that I’m very pleased to have played a minor role in and that was the establishment of a youth mentorship program at an elementary school in Abbotsford. The program is now in its fourth year and it began as a concept put forward by a group of very dynamic and committed university students that had graduated from area high schools.

Working closely with these young adults, the children and school administrators was very rewarding for me, and I’m extremely proud to know this group and to have played a small part in the success of the program.”

Photography by Michael Wachniak

Adam Toren

Adam Toren
Adam Toren is born and raised in Vancouver BC and loves everything Vancouver BC has to offer. He loves traveling and exploring new and unique restaurants and places around the world.