Ladysmith RCMP will start summer bike patrols

Police priorities for coming year include property crime reduction, driving campaigns, bike patrols and First Nations policing.

A summer bike patrol, aggressive and distracted driving campaigns, designated school liaison officers and workshops with First Nations are just some of the priorities for Ladysmith RCMP in the near future.

During a presentation at a recent council meeting, Staff Sgt. Larry Chomyn shared the Ladysmith Detachment’s Annual Performance Plan priorities and initiatives for the coming year.

“Our priorities were consistent with what you wanted as a council and what the community was looking for, which was property crime — break and enters and crime reduction specifically — driving, and what we decided we would focus on was aggressive and impaired driving, which is also going to capture drivers on cellphones; police relations and visibility; and First Nations policing, which is a national priority,” said Chomyn.

In relation to break and enter and crime reduction, the Ladysmith RCMP will identify the top three prolific offenders for property crime and target these individuals, with the goal of prosecution, relocation or rehabilitation.

As well, the RCMP will identify the top three locations where individuals involved in property crime frequent and selectively target these areas, hoping to apprehend the individuals responsible.

Detachment members will also conduct regular curfew checks of individuals on curfews, with a primary focus on prolific offenders.

“The prolific offender program started here in Ladysmith a number of years ago,” said Chomyn. “It’s a very active program, and the reviews have been quite positive.”

With the aggressive driving/impaired drivers priority, members of the Ladysmith Detachment will conduct impaired driving investigations and aggressive/distracted driving campaigns during the year.

They will be looking for people who are using their cellphones while driving, following too closely or driving at high speeds, explained Chomyn, noting the RCMP will be working with the Ladysmith Citizens on Patrol Speed Watch and the South Island Traffic Unit.

The RCMP will also provide proactive articles about safe driving tips and campaign results throughout the year, providing education to the general public.

The Ladysmith Detachment will institute a bike patrol from May to October. Members will conduct a minimum of one bike patrol per week and will conduct these patrols in the downtown core, at Transfer Beach and during special events.

“It’s not just a public relations tool,” noted Chomyn. “They’re tasked with enforcement; they’re a useful enforcement tool to go to some of the areas that are out of the way for police to go in their cars.”

As well, the Ladysmith RCMP will implement a Bar Watch program to hold liquor establishments accountable under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, as well as deter the infiltration of organized crime into the local bars, explained Chomyn.

Bar owners have to sign on to the Bar Watch program.

“It does require a buy-in, and what it really does is it gives us the ability to take some action and if there is any intimidation or reservation on their part to deal with individuals or organized crime, we can step in as the police on their behalf,” said Chomyn. “There’s still an obligation by the bar to abide by the Liquor Control Licensing Act. The inspector is very aware of the Bar Watch program and will be making inspections. We will have our patrols through the bar itself, and we will make sure they’re in compliance with the legislation. Most of the bars, in my experience, have bought into it.”

The detachment will assign specific members to serve as liaison officers with local public schools. These members will visit the schools to develop relationships and meet with students and staff.

“They’re expected to go into the schools and liaise with them and basically be the go-to person for the schools,” said Chomyn.

First Nations policing is a mandated national RCMP priority, and the Ladysmith Detachment has three goals.

One goal is to develop a positive relationship with the Penelakut First Nation. To this end, each general duty detachment member will be responsible for making one proactive visit to the community during the year.

Also, the detachment’s First Nations Policing member will arrange 10 workshops for the Chemainus First Nation during the year. Topics will include issues such as bicycle safety, fraud, substance abuse and family violence.

The Ladysmith Detachment will also arrange with the Chemainus First Nation to hold one cultural workshop focusing on the traditions and cultures of the Coast Salish peoples to educate its members.

Couns. Steve Arnett and Glenda Patterson were happy to hear about the bike patrol.

“Good on you about the bike patrol,” Arnett told Chomyn. “I think it’s such a nice, close-to-the-ground image for folks, and it’s amazing how many people start to engage with the police.”

Patterson agreed.

“It gives a personal touch and makes people feel a little more secure and makes the police easier to talk to,” she said.