Return of RCMP bike patrols sought by police committee

By on February 6, 2018
(From left) RCMP officers Brock Hedrick and Vicki Taylor during a bike patrol in 2012. (Herald file photo)

The City of Merritt’s police committee wants to see the RCMP renew bike patrols in Merritt, which have been lacking due to a shortage of trained officers.

The request is the latest effort by the committee to deter loitering, mischief and public drinking in the downtown core.

“We want [police] to have more presence downtown, and not just in cars,” committee member Coun. Dave Baker told the Herald.

Officers on bikes will have a greater chance of catching offenders in the act than patrols via vehicle, and help improve the perception of Merritt’s downtown, he said.

“There’s a lot of people, including the tourists, who feel somewhat unsafe downtown,” he said, adding that he’s had residents express this concern to him.

“If we want a vibrant downtown we have to clean it up so it looks respectable and pleasing to the eye,” said Baker.

While the police committee would like to see more bike patrols, as staff Sgt. Sheila While pointed out at a recent police committee meeting, resources are limited.

“As with any program, the challenge is having the resources to do it and then having those resources trained,” RCMP Staff Sgt. Sheila White told the committee at its Jan. 23 meeting. “The bike patrol course is five days and there’s not too many bike patrol instructors around to be able to do that.”

At the moment just two Merritt officers have completed the proper training required of RCMP members to conduct bike patrols.

“There is a huge expense to have someone come in for five days,” White told the committee. “It would be easier if we were training more than one or two people for bike patrols.”

Const. Vicki Taylor is a local training officer for bike patrols, but she works out of traffic services and would need permission from her superiors to get the green light to train general duty officers, White told the Herald.

“It’s not impossible, but it’s a big struggle when you don’t have enough resources,” White said.

Currently the Merritt RCMP are short two members and when the detachment is understaffed bike patrols are not made a priority, she said.

Bike patrols have been ongoing for years, but they have been sporadic recently, White told the Herald.

The patrols are beneficial, however, as they make officers seem more approachable, and allow police to easily travel down alleys and between buildings when pursuing criminals, she noted.

During the police committee meeting mayor Neil Menard suggested the possibility of having the two officers who are trained being put on a regular schedule, and Baker suggested training community policing office (CPO) volunteers.

White said she liked the idea of having CPO volunteers participate.

Training volunteers would be easier than RCMP officers as they wouldn’t require as much training said RCMP Const. and CPO liaison Tracy Dunsmore.

“Our training is more enforcement oriented,” she said. “It teaches us how to do take downs and use our bike as a weapon.”

Conducting foot patrols via bike would help volunteers cover a larger area, Baker told the Herald, adding that this idea is something they’ll likely ask the CPO to start doing unless it becomes unfeasible.

“If the police can’t do it, maybe the volunteers is the way to go,” Baker said.

One Comment

  1. T Martindale

    February 6, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    WOW this is most excellent new to say the least.

    I’d love to see in the future more things happening in Merritt “AFTER” business’ are closed for the day without feeling threatened or worried for safety reasons.

    Good Job Police Peep’s very nice to see indeed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *