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Despite Friday’s rainy weather, a pair of Merritt Mounties took to the streets in the first of many bike patrols this season.
Wearing bright yellow rain jackets, Const. Vicki Taylor and Const. Brock Hedrick, cycled up and down the streets and alleyways in Merritt’s downtown core, extending their patrol as far as Diamondvale and Collettville.
The RCMP bike patrols, which could run from May through October depending on the weather, will allow trained officers a bit of extra mobility and help them to cover more ground, said Taylor.
“We’re going to be focusing on downtown, because it’s something the city has been wanting, “ said Hedrick.
“We’ve always had a bike patrol, but we’re going to be stepping it up.”
Currently, the Merritt detachment has four officers trained for bike patrols, but Taylor, who is a training officer, said the detachment will be training more officers this year.
The week-long training course teaches officers bike riding skills, such as how to manoeuvre up and down stairs and over curbs, and teaches them how to use a bike as a tool in dangerous situations. Officers also learn how to pull over cars while on a bike.
City bike patrols will be random — usually lasting between four to ten hours, day or night — and officers will be enforcing the motor vehicle act (for cars and bicycles), the liquor control and licensing act, and the criminal code.
“Our number one concern is public intoxication and people consuming liquor in public,” said Hedrick. “That goes along with drug problems.”
Recent events, like the downtown spree of broken store front windows, make it sound like the RCMP are not there, said Hedrick. However, he said that especially on weekends, police are downtown all the time.
Besides adding to the RCMP’s downtown presence, Taylor said the bike patrol makes RCMP officers more approachable.
“We’re able to interact with people as we go down the streets on our bikes,” she said.
“It’s an excellent resource and tool for us to do our job.”
As well as the potential to increase the patrols with more trained officers, the RCMP plan to have bike patrols during the major local events this summer such as the Great Canadian Bike Rally.