FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Bike patrols are returning to the Energetic City due to the rise in property crime.
Inspector Tony Hanson, Fort St. John RCMP detachment commander, said there has been a rise in property crime across the board in the last several months, but historically, the city is well within the regular crime trends for Fort St. John.
“This is another tool in our belt within the limitations of our resources that we can deploy,” Hanson said.
The issue they’ve had in the past with maintaining bike patrols is human resource levels and retaining officers in Fort St. John.
“Because members don’t tend to stay past their five years in Fort St. John, we have turnover, and members have to have specific training to do bike patrols,” Hanson explained.
To combat this, the patrols will be presented as an overtime opportunity.
“I don’t have enough members working frontline each day to peel two of them off because they work in pairs to go do this,” Hanson said.
The detachment is also doing foot patrols because they will be working in a fairly small area.
“The foot patrols, it’s about being there, being visible, but it also gives members an opportunity,” Hanson said.
“You’d be surprised, people are used to looking at police cars, seeing police cars coming, but when you’re on a bike or walking, it’s funny. A lot of people don’t notice until you’re right there.”
In addition, bike and foot patrols can get down back alleys and between buildings.
Training is required for officers to conduct bike patrols.
“It’s riding a bike in full gear with use-of-force options; you may have to conduct a chase on the bike,” Hanson said.
“It’s riding a bike, but it’s more than that. There’s a five-day course.”
On the first day of the course, the inspector said officers need to pass a 16-kilometre timed ride in order to continue their training.
“You have to have a certain level of fitness. And it’s different riding techniques but also how to use the bike because we use it for public order,” Hanson said.
“Large crowds, you’re trained how to do it with [the bike]. You’re trained how to use it as a defensive option if you’re dealing with a violent individual.”
He said when a bike patrol officer needs to make an arrest, they call for a marked unit to transport, then they’ll bike, meet the marked unit, and take control of the individual.
Despite possible obstacles, the detachment commander believes bike patrols will have a positive impact.
“For me, it’s just about managing my resources, there’s only so many of us, and we can only be so many places,” Hanson said.
“We are working within our means, within the legislation, to deal with the concerns of the community.”
He encourages residents to continue to report crimes because it assists the RCMP with catching thieves and preventing the theft of valuable items.
Recently, Energeticcity.ca released part two of the Disrupting the Peace series on businesses being affected by property crime.