Integrity. Compassion. Accountability. Respect. Excellence.
These five ICARE core values guide the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) in everything they do. Filled with stories of courage and determination, VPD’s officers truly are role models. Not only do they keep our neighborhoods safe, but our police force acts as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come. Such are the stories of two VPD gems, Sergeant Rita Raj and Constable Ardaman Jaswal.
Shining light on Sergeant Raj, prior to becoming a police officer, she was a non-emergency call taker for the Delta Police Department (DPD) and a 9-1-1 emergency call taker for the Burnaby RCMP. The passionate professional balanced these challenging jobs while also attending the University of the Fraser Valley for her Bachelor of Arts degree, volunteering at a Community Policing Centre, and volunteering as a Reserve Constable for the DPD. Ultimately, her valuable experiences solidified her childhood desire to become a police officer. She began policing with the DPD, where she was the only South Asian female in the department. Eventually, Sergeant Raj transferred to VPD in 2010.
Today, Sergeant Raj boasts 16 tireless years of service with diverse experiences in a variety of operational, administrative, and investigative assignments. The superstar officer is the recipient of two Chief Constable’s Unit Citations, Deputy Chief Constable’s Citation and an Inspector’s Commendation. Recently, she was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. “Your workplace may be the streets of Vancouver or the water surrounding it, a local school or community policing center, at the end of a police dog leash or undercover in the drug world, at the helm of a boat or an armored response vehicle, in a crime lab or in the online world, on horseback or motorcycle – the opportunities are endless. Your career path can be as unique as you.”, shares Sergeant Raj.
Instrumental in Sergeant Raj’s professional endeavors is her supportive family. As a mother of three herself, she understands the importance of work-life balance and has immense gratitude for VPD’s support throughout her pregnancies, alongside the provision of learning and advancement opportunities following her maternity leaves. In fact, VPD is known for flexibility and agility in this space, given that 26% of the VPD force consists of women.
Another woman of caliber excelling with the VPD is Constable Jaswal. Born in India, Constable Jaswal came to Canada at a young age and grew up in South Vancouver, where she graduated from the University of British Columbia in the field of Kinesiology. While studying the subject and coaching children in various sports, she found success in leading children through physical literacy. Growing up, young Constable Jaswal recalls positive interactions with the police through school activities and sports. Thanks to such interactions, she decided to pursue policing and give back to her community in ways she had herself experienced firsthand.
When she initially shared her plans, Constable Jaswal’s family and friends were incredibly supportive in her decision and absolutely ecstatic about her career choice. Having grown up constantly on the move, a fast-paced career like policing seemed to be the perfect fit for the go-getter’s lifestyle. Over time, as more chats took place about the nature of policing and what the job would entail, Constable Jaswal’s loved ones became more familiar with the idea and were able to better understand the different aspects of policing.
Having a reliable and solid foundation at work and at home has helped Constable Jaswal maintain an effective work-life balance. The devoted officer is able to come to work and handle situations successfully in collaboration with her supportive co-workers, which gives her a genuine sense of fulfillment. Constable Jaswal reveals, “The most rewarding aspect of my job has been the opportunity to meet so many different people of different backgrounds. Everyday, I’ve been given the chance to speak with people from all the corners of the world.”
Evidently, both Sergeant Raj and Constable Jaswal are an embodiment and reflection of many integral values — be it an expression of VPD’s community commitment, a symbol of women empowerment, or a representation of what it means to be catalysts of positive change. Through their stories and successes, the two female powerhouses show that with persistence and intention, anything is possible. Most of all, the community stands in unison with the VPD, proud and grateful that our trust lies safely in the capable hands of engaged and accomplished officers like Sergeant Raj and Constable Jaswal.