A Mountie with years of experience in the Armed Forces and heavy-duty mechanics has been appointed to take charge of Aldergrove Community Police Office.
Cst. Phil Colter will take as liaison this month, but he’s not new to Aldergrove or the Fraser Valley. For the past seven years he’s been a Langley police officer.
For the past two years, Colter has been part of Langley RCMP’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT).
“Each morning, before businesses open, our job is to wake homeless people up, make sure they are OK, and get them started on their day,” Colter explained.
Especially as the opioid crisis rages on, Colter said “we have to make sure they’re still alive.”
It’s a daunting reality for the officers, who receive plenty of calls from business owners expressing their frustration over a person fast asleep in front of their store’s entrance.
“A lot of our calls for service are related to mental health and homelessness,” Colter admitted about the job, “It’s not like a regular patrol officer.”
“It took a long time to build those relationships and gain their trust,” and officers often collaborate with local advocacy groups to direct people living on the streets to resources.
Before his posting with HOT, Colter conducted patrols in and around Aldergrove, even working the Aldergrove Fair grounds each summer as crowds packed in.
That’s when Colter says he really got to know the community.
“It’s really improved since I first worked here,” Colter expressed, “The community is wonderful. It’s the only place in Langley to still host a Canada Day parade each year.”
He’s looking forward to his new role, even with the added pressure “of having big shoes to fill” after Cpl. Kurt Neuman’s planned departure this month.
Neuman established foot patrols with Langley RCMP auxiliary officers three seasons of the year in Aldergrove, Fort Langley, and Langley City.
Colter will cover from 276 Street to 232 Street and from the U.S. border north, to the Glen Valley and Fort Langley area.
“As a police officer you’re constantly seeing the dark side of society. It wears you down,” the officer admitted.
“But with foot patrols, you get to smile, wave, and joke around with locals.” It serves as a bit of a reprieve from constant exposure to criminality.
When it comes to policing, Colter believes “it’s important [for officers] to have experience in other areas of life.
This is something he exemplifies – having done two tours in the former the former Yugoslavia as a soldier in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry at age 19.
From there, Colter went on to become a certified welder, a heavy-duty mechanic, and a dad of two sons (ages 17 and 19).
Not only does being in the army run in his family – so does policing.
“My sons are considering joining the force,” Colter esteemed, “But I told them to experience a little more of life before making that decision.”
Colter himself joined the force in his 30’s.
Now, when he’s not at work, the Fort Langley resident helps his father-in-law manage a five-acre farm where he and both of his in-laws, as well as brother-in-law, live.
“We’ve got chickens for eggs, sheep, and a vegetable garden,” Colter remarked.