'Athletes are the true heroes:' Meet Vancouver Police Department's Inspector Joanne Wild

For National Police Week, May 10 to 16, we are thanking our 13,577 Law Enforcement Torch Run members across Canada by sharing some of their stories. These Canadian law enforcement personnel donate their personal time to not only raise awareness of Special Olympics, but also raise critical funds. LETR is the largest public awareness and grassroots fundraising organization for the worldwide Special Olympics movement. Please join us in celebrating their incredible impact on the lives of Special Olympics athletes and their families.


Inspector Joanne Wild, dressed in her police uniform poses for a photo with Special Olympics BC athlete Nigel.
Inspector Joanne Wild with Special Olympics BC athlete Nigel.

Inspector Joanne Wild has been a member of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics BC (BC LETR) since the 1990s and serves on the BC LETR Executive Council. She has worked tirelessly to raise funds and awareness for SOBC through numerous fundraising initiatives, and has played an important role in building law enforcement support for Special Olympics in the province.  

1.    What is your role in law enforcement?

I am presently the Inspector i/c of the General Investigations Section with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD). This Section has 10 different units (12 teams) including: Property Crime Unit, Property Crime Surveillance Unit, Anti-fencing and Auto Crime Unit, Financial Crime, Crime Analyst Unit, Identity Theft Unit, Chronic Offenders Unit, Fugitive Team, Cybercrime Unit and Digital Forensic Unit.

2.    What do you love about your job?

There are so many things that I love about my job and one of those is the partners that I have worked with over the years, as the friendships that we develop continue to this day. The other thing that I love about my job is the opportunities and experiences that I’ve had or been exposed to. I would never have become involved in the LETR if I wasn’t in this career and it is something that I cherish each and every day.

3.    Do you have a favourite moment/highlight from your career?

When I look back at my career, which has been almost 30 years long, the moments that I remember the most are times when a victim has thanked me for helping them get through a difficult time. The thank yous don’t occur very often, and they don’t need to, but each time they do it reinforces why I chose policing in the first place. 
One example is of an elderly lady who was being abused by her son-in-law in their home. I attended, investigated and arrested the son-in-law and facilitated the woman being placed in a care home. When I went to visit her the following week, having her smile at me and give me a hug spoke volumes of the impact we, as police officers, can have on people’s lives.

4.    When and why did you get involved with Special OIympics/LETR?

I first participated in our VPD leg of Torch Run when I was in the police academy and I ran a couple of years following that. In the mid 90s I became more involved.
I grew up playing a variety of different sports and knowing how much I benefited, the lasting friendships I made, the impact it had on my life, it was easy to say yes. Although I wasn’t sure I could raise enough money, knowing it would help provide similar opportunities for individuals with an intellectual disability, so they could experience the joy of sport much like I did (and continue to do), I knew I would do what I could to raise as much money as I could.

Inspector Joanne Wild at the Special Olympics World Summer Games Los Angeles 2015.

5.    What is your favourite Special Olympics/LETR moment/memory?

There have been events that I’ve attended where the athletes’ cheers have drowned out anything else going on and it is an amazing feeling to be a part of. I am grateful for all the opportunities that I have been given to represent my profession at different events and in different capacities and all of them leave a lasting impression. I would say some of the highlights are:

  • Attending and presenting medals/ribbons at Track and Field competitions in Richmond in the late 1990s to early 2000s.
  • Running/walking the Torch into the Opening Ceremony for various Games across B.C., including the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Coquitlam in 1997 and the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games Vancouver 2014.
  • Participating in the Final Legs for the Special Olympics World Winter Games Pyeong Chang, 2013 and the Special Olympics World Summer Games Los Angeles 2015, where I got to meet Special Olympics athletes from around the world.

The reason these are all highlights is not because of what I got to do, but because of what I experienced – and that was the excitement, energy, competitiveness, sportsmanship, high fives and hugs, smiles of the athletes who were participating and because they are the true heroes who inspire all of us to do our best each and every day.

6.    How has Special Olympics/LETR changed your life?

Oh wow! This is a tough question to answer as there are many ways it has changed my life, but I would say each time I have an opportunity to watch competitions, interact with athletes and see the joy on their faces - no matter the outcome - it inspires me to be a better person and continue my support. They are an amazing group to be around and their approach to life, as well as their oath, is something I can learn from and aspire to.

The Athlete Oath: Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt. Words we can all live by.

7.    Why should other law enforcement officials get involved in LETR?

I can say, without a doubt, that I have gained so much more than I have given in the friendships I’ve formed with athletes, their hugs and high fives, their infectious joy for life, their comradery  and sportsmanship, the list goes on.