There’s a new sheriff in town.
Well, not exactly, but after two years working as the City Community Liaison Officer (CLO) in downtown Langley, Cpl. Steve McKeddie is passing the torch to Const. Lisa Cormier.
Working directly out of the Community Police Office at the corner of 204 Street and Douglas Crescent, Cormier said officers are doing much more policing out of the former post office than in the past.
With officers assigned to the City working out of the CPO, response time is much faster because of its central location, they said.
“The beauty of this role as the CLO, is I have a more time to build relationships with people and hear their stories, and get to know them. They know us and we are a familiar, consistent face,” said Cormier.
Their presence is welcome by most, with the exception of prolific criminals, the officers noted.
Working downtown, Cormier and McKeddie said they have come to know the homeless, and that treating everyone with compassion and care is ‘what anyone would and should do.”
Officers are now utilizing the CPO as their home base and are finding that its central location helps get to crimes taking place.
“What we do at this CPO has changed a lot from a few years ago,” said McKeddie.
“The CPO used to be volunteer driven and our crime prevention programs were based here. They are still based out of the CPO, but now we can do much more enforcement out of this office. It’s like a mini-detachment.”
But they are focused on walking the beat, too.
There aren’t any jail cells at the CPO, so if an arrest is made on City streets, the criminal is still brought to the main detachment in Murrayville.
However, citizens are encouraged to come into the office and if they are a victim of crime or want to report suspicious activity, they have the means to make the report.
McKeddie said they have worked hard and had recent success getting rid of some problem rental properties in the City that were a “haven for crime, pedaling stolen goods and drugs.”
The flop houses were a major issues for neighbours.
With the CPO located directly across from City Hall, officers work with the mayor and direct their policing by listening to those concerns.
The Community Policing Officer also works with Stepping Stone and Gateway of Hope.
“We have to have open communication to be able to help,” said Cormier. A majority of policing is now dealing with mental health and homeless issues, they said.
But McKeddie maintains the Langley RCMP mantra that “you can’t police your way out of homelessness.” It’s the dominant issue in every community in B.C. But incarceration isn’t the answer, said McKeddie.
The biggest challenge local officers face is the under reporting of crime, said Cormier.
“Even if just change has been stolen from your car, report it so we can have it on file and it provides a profile of hot spots and problem areas,” she said.
Another big role of the City CPO is to work with businesses and stratas to make building exteriors an unwelcome place for thieves.
“There is a lot a strata can do to curb mail theft or break-ins to the parking lot through CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design).”
They invite any strata or business to contact them to have their place looked at for CPTED best practices.
The City CPO is open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is used by officers 24/7.