Langley RCMP commander gives some details of local policing

At any given time, there is only about 10 RCMP officers on general duty patrol in Langley.

Langley RCMP Supt. Derek Cooke outlined a number of details about how our local police force works at last Tuesday’s Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce meeting.

He was as honest about policing in Langley as could be. There are few police officers on the streets of Langley at any one time. Yet at the same time, they are having some success, as crime rates are falling.

At the same time, some innovative approaches to crime-fighting are paying dividends, particularly as Langley RCMP target prolific offenders, who often are at the centre of a large number of the incidents police are asked to respond to.

What was likely surprising to some members of the audience was Cooke’s statement that there are 10 general duty officers on the road at any one time in Langley. That isn’t a large contingent, given that Langley City and Township together are a large area to patrol.

There are a total of 184 RCMP members working at Langley detachment, but of those, 104 work in various special units. Some are plainclothes detectives, others work in other units. A total of 80 members make up the four watches, 20 at a time. But of those 20, it is likely that five will be missing at any one time, due to illness, vacations or other leave.

Five others are supervisors, and some of those are out on the road. But their main duty is to work with the 10 general duty officers out there at one time, and provide support to them, Many general duty officers are fairly new to the RCMP and likely need a little more support than more experienced officers.

Among Cooke’s observations was a reflection on how policing has changed since he first joined the RCMP 32 years ago.

One of the most topical changes is in how people get their mail. At a time when the federal government is planning to eliminate door-to-door delivery, the community mailboxes that many people must use have “created their own crime category,” he says.

This is because they are very easy to break into, and thieves have figured out that they will likely find something worthwhile if they hit a community mailbox shortly after the mail is delivered.

Langley has a very serious problem with these boxes at present, and Canada Post does not seem to take the matter seriously. This alone should be a good reason for Langley residents to have as little to do with snail mail as possible.

Cooke also noted that cellphones are both a blessing and a curse. They allow people to report crimes quickly, and consequently more incidents are reported. But they also end up in the hands of children at times, and are used to make unnecessary 911 calls, which must be responded to. He urges parents to use all precautions to keep cellphones out of the hands of chilren, and if they are going to handle them, be sure 911 isn’t programmed in.

He made a very astute observation as well — there would be little crime today without poverty and rampant drug use — particularly cocaine. Take those two out of the mix, and police wouldn’t be very busy.

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