A new Langley RCMP unit has already seized handguns, tens of thousands of dollars worth of drugs, and arrested multiple suspects in less than three months since its formation.
The Special Response Team was created at the instigation of Supt. Adrian Marsden on Nov. 17, to be a proactive and highly visible unit that could respond to community issues, dealing with the kinds of criminal problems that don’t necessarily fall directly under the purview of one of the other major units in the Langley RCMP.
“The team has hit the ground running since Nov. 17, with several arrests of key individuals that pose a risk to public safety,” Marsden said.
“Their main focus is really proactive enforcement,” said Sgt. Bal Sidhu, who oversees the unit as NCO for Community Policing.
In day-to-day control of the unit is Cpl. Jennifer Balfour, who has worked in units that were reactive for most of her career. Much of policing is reactive – officers respond to calls after a crime has been committed to investigate or make arrests.
“Coming into a proactive unit was a change for me,” Balfour said.
She said the unit can make decisions about targeting certain problems. For example, they could spend a whole day doing curfew checks on convicted offenders who are supposed to be home by a certain time as a condition of their sentence in the community.
They may look in on prolific offenders, or check out a house where the neighbours have been complaining about suspicious activity, or get tips based on the Langley detachment’s crime analysis data.
The unit wears uniforms, but uses unmarked cars, said Sidhu. This makes them visible to the public when out and on foot, but lower profile when they’re driving around and observing.
Considering they’ve only been in action for a little over two months, the unit has already had some notable successes, including taking two handguns off the streets.
On Dec. 23, members of the unit stopped a man simply for having an obstructed license plate on his car.
The driver had a loaded handgun, $10,000 in cash, 69 grams of suspected methamphetamine, 220 grams of suspected fentanyl, and 64 grams of suspected cocaine. The drugs have an estimated street value of between $50,000 and $70,000.
Charges are pending in that case based on lab analysis of the suspected drugs.
Another gun seizure resulted from officers noticing a suspicious car when they were waiting to meet with security staff at the Willowbrook Shopping Centre on Dec. 17, as part of an anti-shoplifting blitz.
When they tried to pull the car over, it fled, speeding all the way across Langley to the Golden Ears Bridge and into Maple Ridge.
It took the efforts of Langley and Maple Ridge Mounties, along with the Air One helicopter and a canine unit to find the driver. He was arrested with a loaded handgun, and faces charges of breaching numerous court ordered conditions.
One of their big successes was finding a van with a stolen insurance decal just after Christmas.
The van turned out to have been swiped from a shop that was converting it for use by the disabled. The owners had already spent many hours and thousands of dollars on the conversion, and the Special Response Team’s discovery helped get it back to its proper use.
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Sidhu noted that many detachments have a similar unit to the Special Response Team. Langley’s similar previous unit was largely focused on prolific offenders, while this new group has a wider mandate.
“If you’re out in the community, you will always find things,” Balfour said.
The nature of their work means they will be working with multiple other units within the Langley RCMP, the officers noted.
The unit includes four constables and Balfour.
Beyond the goal of proactively stopping crimes and catching suspects, it is also aimed at bolstering community presence, as the officers will be out in public frequently.
Because they’re proactive, their work and what they encounter is constantly changing.
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