There’s a new set of wheels in town patrolling trails throughout the the West Shore.
The West Shore RCMP recently added a full-time bike patrol unit, consisting of four members. As part of the unit, officers head out in pairs on red and black Rocky Mountain bikes to patrol trails such as the Galloping Goose and the E&N Trail, as well as smaller, lesser travelled trails throughout the western communities and First Nation reserves.
“We’re going to be enhancing police visibility in the community,” Const. Alex Berube said. “We have that opportunity to get closer to citizens by approaching them on a trail and give them a sense of safety. We’ll just stop and talk to people … It’s a way to connect with people as well.”
The local detachment had a summer bike patrol in the past, but this is the first time it has had a full-time, year-round unit to enforce criminal code offenses and provincial statutes in areas that are difficult to access with police cars.
The unit has been up and running since July, and has received positive feedback from the community so far. In addition to stopping people to chat about various topics and providing support to general duty officers, officers have made arrests as well.
Berube said in recent weeks the unit had three arrests on the Galloping Goose for outstanding warrants, as well as another arrest in a back alley for someone breaching their court imposed conditions.
“We’re in Victoria, we’re in shorts and riding bikes, these are all things we love to do,” Berube said. “We’re engaging with the community and on top of everything else we feel like we’re making a difference in the sense that we’re providing enhanced visibility and we’re getting closer to the community.”
Cpl. Dave Vunic, supervisor of the local bike unit, said an increased police presence is necessary as the population grows on the West Shore, and more people take advantage of the region’s expansive trail system.
“I think as the city grows there’s a need for it,” said Vunic, who served on a full-time bike squad at the North Vancouver detachment for several years. “The Galloping Goose goes through many different municipalities and a lot of people travel on that. It’s hard to get a police car down there, so it’s nice to have a presence and it makes the public feel safe.”