VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A retired VPD officer who gained a reputation for his tough patrols on the Downtown Eastside has passed away.

‘Whistling’ Bernie Smith spent 34 years in uniform, including a stint fighting prostitution and drugs on Hastings.

“He comes from a different time of being a police officer in Vancouver when the officer himself had tremendous amount of responsibility as a single person watching and keeping an eye on what was happening on his own block,” notes Vancouver author and historian Aaron Chapman.

Smith’s reputation as a tough beat cop on the DTES was the focus of a National Film Board documentary Whistling Smith.

“You can see in the film that Bernie certainly had some abrasive tactics and maybe those tactics wouldn’t work today, some of them maybe would. But it was a different time and you were dealing with oddly enough the same streets and some of the same problems that police in Vancouver are dealing with today,” Chapman adds.

It’s believed Smith was 89, however details on his death have yet to be released.

The VPD has expressed its sadness, saying Smith was a legend to the force.

Whistling Smith by Marrin Canell & by Michael Scott, National Film Board of Canada