Langley RCMP’s newest top cop thinks this region is in great shape, but firmly wants to make sure citizens feel safe walking down their own streets.
“The detachment is in good shape. But I will adapt as I go because one or two serious crimes can change things quickly,” said Insp. Murray Power. “In our line of work, the situation is always fluid.”
The officer in command position became available when Supt. Derek Cooke took a job working in Israel in an UN-sanctioned peace in policing position. In the interim, Power and Insp. Rob de Boersap shared leading the detachment.
With 184 officers, 85 civilian staff, and numerous volunteer operations including the auxiliary constable program, the Langley detachment is a massive operation.
In his new role as leader of the detachment, he wants to have more communication with the public.
“Interaction with the community is the recipe for success going forward,” Power said.
Catching the culprits involved in the hammer attack on the Good Samaritan on Oct. 18 is the detachment’s top priority right now.
“The nature of that attack is so egregious, it’s very disturbing. We have the appropriate number of officers on that to bring it to a resolution.”
Already, a number of good quality tips are being investigated.
But he believes that type of serious crime is “an anomaly.”
“Crime is a hot topic throughout the Lower Mainland and I definitely have the same concerns. A lot of the officers here live in Langley and share those concerns,” he said. “People should be able to feel safe walking down a street. We can never eradicate crime but we should be able to bring it to an acceptable level.”
As to Langley City being overrun by criminals and homeless people, he isn’t sure it is as bad as it may seem.
“But if there is a perception out there, that is great enough reason for concern,” said Power. He isn’t opposed to seeing more police walking the beat.
“A visual presence is very significant but I have to balance being visible and making sure citizens are getting full value out of us,” Power said.
Walking the beat takes time away from other crime fighting and away from paper work, he adds.
“Policing has changed so much. Ten years ago it took one hour to write up a police report on a domestic violence call. Now it takes 10 hours to get a report ready for Crown. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just the new reality.”
Policing is a lot more strategic too, which helps with the city core issues.
“Every city core has city core issues and Langley City isn’t immune. However, geography is on our side because it’s a small city core.”
He credits the RCMP’s prolific offender program as helping keep the repeat offenders away. But he recognizes that theft from vehicles, a preventable crime, is rampant in the core.
“There aren’t too many secrets we don’t know about. We know who the bad people are,” he noted.
But he has a unique perspective on the homeless situation that he wants to share.
“There is room there to step up our game as a community and show a level of compassion for these people instead of fear,” he said.
“The homeless situation comes up all the time. People feel uncomfortable around them. It’s human nature. What I can tell you is we don’t have a raft of complaints of homeless committing serious crimes. They are committing nuisance crimes.
“As a society we should be asking ourselves how did we get here and what is the way forward.”
Homeless people loitering should not be an issue police have to deal with, he said.
“We get calls that the homeless are hanging out in place X. What can police do about it?”
Power said the Langley RCMP have a great working relationship with mental health staff at Langley Memorial Hospital and are constantly engaged with them directly, to help out those in distress who could either harm themselves or harm others.
The Langley RCMP also have ‘tremendous support’ and positive relationships with both Langley councils and mayors.
Power is eager to see 2014 crime statistics for the Langleys. If crime has gone up then he will adjust policing accordingly. Until then, he hopes to keep the lines of communication with the public as open as possible.