A Langford man is being honoured by the Governor General of Canada for his contributions to evidence-based policing research and his work with youth across the country.
Darren Laur, a social media expert with the West Shore-based company called The White Hatter, was made a member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces by Governor General Julie Payette at a ceremony in Victoria recently.
“I’m very honoured and humbled as well, considering all the people, both law enforcement and non-law enforcement who were at Government House to receive their awards,” Laur said.
Laur, who retired two years ago, spent 29 years with the Victoria Police Department in various capacities from basic patrol work to training. Alongside his partner, they started the first full-time police mountain biking team in Canada. But it was his work with body-worn cameras that helped earn him the award.
The six-month research project looked at the cause and effects of body-worn cameras. Officers in six to eight units strapped the cameras to their heads and wore them when they were out walking the beat or riding bicycles. That meant wherever the officer was looking, you could see exactly what was going on in front of them.
“We found that in every case in which charges were laid, we had guilty pleas because what we saw happening was caught on video,” said Laur, adding when the cameras were on, it resulted in more professional behaviour from both officers and people they were interacting with.
“We also found it gave a truer perspective of what was happening in an incident as well.”
While the department stopped using the cameras as a result of costing issues regarding storing the data, the research later became a benchmark for other law enforcement agencies in both Canada and the U.S., that were considering the use of the cameras.
Over his years of working with the department, another trend began to emerge – social media and the Internet – which inspired Laur to establish The White Hatter. As part of the program, Laur, his wife Beth and their son Brandon teach students about social media safety and digital literacy. Since the program started in 1993, the team has made presentations to more than 450 schools across Canada and the U.S., reaching more than 375,000 students.
“What was cool about the award that I received was it recognized not just what I did within my career in policing, but also what my family and I were doing outside of policing,” he said. “It was an award that recognized all those types of things.”
Retired Victoria police chief Jamie Graham, who worked with Laur for several years, nominated him for the award.
“Darren’s efforts in a wide variety of areas with Victoria was absolutely amazing,” Graham said. “His officers that worked for him loved him, loved what he did and loved what he stood for.”
The Order of Merit of the Police Forces honours the leadership and exceptional service or distinctive merit displayed by the men and women of the Canadian Police Services, and recognizes their commitment to the country.