Emergency Response Team on display for new Vancouver Police Museum exhibit

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Mannequin at Emergency Response Team exhibit is dressed for combat. Photo by Angela Holubowich.

The Vancouver Police Museum has launched their newest exhibit, Situation Critical: Vancouver’s ERT, which focuses on the often elusive but incredibly skilled operations carriet by the VPD’s Emergency Response Team.

Emergency Response Team formed in 1976 with help from LAPD

In its humble beginnings, the squad received guidance from the LAPD on the formation of a skilled unit of police officers capable of controlling risky situations. A part-time team of officers with military experience became the first ERT in 1976.

Larry Young was a founding member and the team’s first sergeant. During a raid in 1987 he was fatally shot. His death highlighted the need for a more tactical squad with more effective gear and protection.

“The exhibit came together from a request from the emergency response team themselves,” said Kristin Hardy, curator of the Vancouver Police Museum. “They are now in their third decade of their history and are interesting in sharing it.”

“It’s one that is not only eye catching but has some really interesting history,” said Hardy. “There are some great stories, some of Vancouver’s most notorious and dark stories.”

Original members of Emergency Response Team helped in creating museum exhibit

Although the original members of the team are now starting to retire, some have played a pivotal role in the creation of the exhibit, including now retired inspector Bob Stewart. His involvement has seen the team go through its entire evolution since the death of his colleague Sgt. Young right up to curation of the historical displays for the museum.

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A mannequin repels from the roof of the Emergency Response Team exhibit. Photo by Angela Holubowich.

The Vancouver Police museum is actually not a city museum but is a not-for-profit exhibit covering all costs with summer camp and museum admissions. It is commonly thought that they are a direct associate to the VPD, but are in fact completely separate.

Some of the highlights of the exhibit look as though they are straight out of a James Bond movie. The gear used by the squad includes such tools as a circular camera about the size of a softball that can be thrown into a room and give the team waiting outside a clear view within.

“The best part about the exhibit is the touch screen computers, “said Hardy. “It really allows visitors to get to know the members of the team, hear some calls and really delve into the history of the team.”

Reported by Angela Holubowich

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