A/Sgt. Kalwinder Dosanjh has been working the streets of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside for half a dozen years.
He moves through the throng of people at Main and Hastings with ease. He's part of a small team trying to deal with the myriad of problems plaguing the area that's been described as Canada's poorest postal code.
A man walks by. He's slightly hunched, his eyes glued to the ground, head swivel-ing back and forth.
"He's searching for crack right now," Dosanjh says as he passes by. "He's hurting that bad and can't buy it, so what they do is scrounge around to see if they can find any morsel."
The tall, muscular Indo-Canadian grew up in Ladner, a world away from what he sees now on a daily basis as one of the beat cops patrolling the Downtown Eastside for the Vancouver Police Department.
After graduating from high school, Dosanjh was headed for a career on the other side of the legal system. He was on his way to university with an eye on law school when a summer program changed his mind.
"The passion was always there to become a police officer but I wanted to go to law school and on my way to university and law school I kind of got diverted from that plan after I did a summer program with the RCMP," he says.
After just a few months with Surrey RCMP he was hooked, he says with a wide grin.
"After I finished that program I said, 'You know what, this is my calling, this is what I want to do.'"
He signed on with VPD 14 years ago and has policed pretty much every area of the city. Six years ago, he started working on the Downtown Eastside.
Now he heads a squad of 10 officers that patrol the area on foot. The officers head out in pairs, but as a supervisor, Dosanjh is often alone.
He stands at the corner of Main and Hastings. It's teeming with people - a mixture of drug dealers and users, thieves and violent offenders. The block is like a makeshift flea market, with many selling stolen goods.
"Everything is concentrated right in there," Dosanjh says.
The bottle depot is right across the street, which is a major source of income for many residents.
"Because of that, naturally, all the drug dealers are going to gravitate towards them because they're collecting money for the bottles that they bring in so it becomes the epicenter of a lot of the activity that we see here."
As he begins walking the block, the sea of people moves and shifts. Someone yells, "Six up," a warning to others on the street that cops are in the area. Some scramble to pack up and temporarily move on while others pay the officer no mind and continue about their business.
"This is the perfect storm and the reason why I say that is because numerous variables in the equation have come together to create this environment," he says. "You have a concentration of single-room occupancy buildings, you have the safe injection site, you have the drug dealers down here, you had the subsidized housing, you have individuals with mental health issues... all these things come together to form this type of environment."
Dosanjh says policing the Downtown Eastside is unlike any other area of the city. He says many times officers stumble upon a situation where they're needed.
One night Dosanjh and another officer came across a man who had just been stabbed behind the Carnegie Centre at Main and Hastings. The knife was still in his back.
"We immediately provided medical attention, cordoned off the area as a crime scene and then located witnesses, canvassed the area and notified forensics, and we're obviously looking for the suspect at the same time...
"If you're working the other districts in the City of Vancouver, that's another major thing, is that you're not necessarily generating your calls. Calls are being generated and you're doing reactive policing. Here, it's proactive, you're actively going out and searching.
"You're searching for drug dealers, you're searching for these types of situations, and when you come across them it's no surprise because, thing is, that's the type of criminal violence that's come to be expected down here on account of the open air drug market, on account of the drug dealers."
Dosanjh is one of a handful of officers featured on The Beat, a CityTV reality show that follows the officers as they police the Downtown Eastside.
The show is in its second season. "The reason they chose this area is because there are come very unique challenges down there and it's become even more unique as a result of Gastown becoming revitalized, Tinseltown where a new condo development is going in, so you're seeing quite a gentrification of the area," he says. "So as a result of that, we're noticing an emerging, just this new emerging environment which creates different types of challenges for us."
Dosanjh says the show helps shed some light on the problems in the area and the challenges officers face.
They're not acting, he says, the camera crew simply captures what happens on any given day or night.
"It's not out to glamourize, we're not out to romanticize it. We're trying to show a hard, visceral reality so that everybody can see that this is the environment that we work in."
Dosanjh says he also hopes his appearance on the show provides a positive role model for Indo-Canadian youth. Since he's been featured on the show, he says he has been approached by an increasing number of Indo-Canadian youths about a career in policing.
Walking back toward headquarters, Dosanjh says he asked to be transferred to the Downtown Eastside.
"The most measurable impact you can have as an officer is down here, as simple as that. I just saw the great work that was being done by beat cops. These are the guys that are on the street every day demonstrating compassion and just a basic understanding of the human condition in just helping these individuals transcend their current situation and move on with their lives. That's what I want to do."