A Vancouver Police constable has been chosen as one of the top 40 under 40 law enforcement professionals in the world. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) annual award recognizes candidates who exemplify leadership and commitment to their profession.
In his short eight years with the Vancouver Police Department, Constable Michael Bal has an impressive list of accomplishments. He has worked as a School Liaison officer the last two years, and launched several initiatives aimed at helping teens in the community deal with their challenges and become happier and healthier individuals.
“Working with young people who demonstrate so much drive and energy motivates me to dedicate myself toward their goals and be the inspiration for them to reach for their best,” says Bal.
“Michael’s leadership and passion has been nothing less than inspirational,” says Inspector Howard Tran of the VPD Youth Services Section. “He is truly making a difference in his community and beyond.”
In early 2016, Constable Bal launched Project Jawani, along with Detective Constable Steve Kingra. The project has South Asian youths gather for an open discussion about the issues they are facing. The social, academic, and professional goals of participants are developed through community speakers and mentors.
Bal began Project Breakaway to bring together high school students of different ethnicities, religious beliefs, athletic abilities, and life challenges. The group plays floor hockey regularly with police officers, who provide mentorship and positive reinforcement.
Concerned about the mental health issues among youth, Bal teamed up with mental health professionals to develop the Mental Wellness Peer-to-Peer Support Group at David Thompson Secondary. Students who were having issues with their mental health, along with students who had an interest in creating awareness and removing the stigma of mental health, joined this inclusive and supportive group. Participants are given education and training before delivering interactive presentations to other students at both the elementary and high school levels. The program is so successful, it is now being expanded across the entire Vancouver School District.
In July 2016, Constable Bal was one of two Canadians selected by the US State Department to be an International Youth Ambassador mentor to 16 kids, aged 15 to 18, who are leaders in their communities across Canada. The group travelled to Ottawa, New York, and Washington over three weeks, gaining a deeper knowledge of civic government, community service, leadership, and social inclusion. Bal continues to mentor the group as they implement projects in their own communities.
Bal started the Rick Schaaf Memorial Cup in honour of his high school School Liaison officer, who passed away after battling cancer. Constable Schaaf was instrumental in Bal’s desire to become a School Liaison officer himself. The annual soccer games takes place between David Thompson and John Oliver high schools, and a player from each team receives a scholarship.
Bal also organizes the Paul Sanghera Memorial Tournament, an annual secondary school soccer tournament in honour of Paul Sanghera, a VPD officer killed in the line of duty in 1982.
Bal dedicates his time to mentor the VPD Cadets at David Thompson, even volunteering on his own time to take part in their activities. He is also instrumental in providing guidance and leadership to Vancouver Grade 11 and 12 students in the VPD Student Challenge, an eight-day mini police academy.
Bal worked on patrol before joining the Youth Services Unit. He is a Public Order negotiator with the Public Safety Unit, and is a nationally certified, award-winning crisis negotiator. Bal has a bachelor of arts in political science and criminology from SFU. He is presently assigned to David Thompson Secondary and eight elementary schools, which includes over 2,000 students.
“My father was a Royal Hong Kong police officer,” says Bal. “He taught me about the impact an officer can have on a community and struggling youth. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with these kids, and hopefully make a difference in someone’s life.”