Through mud and rain, the first bike patrol in Hinton by the RCMP hit the trails June 21.
After covering around 18 kilometres in a few hours of riding around town, Staff Sgt. Chris Murphy and Const. Michael Rathbun felt they had a successful first ride.
“We were able to hit a lot of places throughout Hinton, we were able to cover and have conversations with people outside of schools, people on their doorstep, we came across people who were out riding their bikes. We stopped and had conversations with them as well. The feedback was very positive, in certain places people weren’t expecting to see a police officer so that’s great,” said Murphy.
Murphy explained that the goal of having regular bike patrols is to increase visibility and to strategically stop crimes from occurring.
“Being on bikes we were of course able to access the wonderful trail system of this community. It allows us to get out there, but in addition to the trail system, we’re able to get into locations and be a little bit more visible,” he said.
Not having their vehicle create a barrier when accessing certain areas in town like the hiking paths allows the RCMP to strategically and proactively place themselves to prevent criminal activity.
“It’s not lost on us that we have clients involved in criminal activity that are utilizing our trail system, that are utilizing the bush and this gives us one tool to be able to get to the right place at the right time,” added Murphy.
During the patrol on Friday, the two officers made their way over to the high schools and had conversations with some of the students as they were leaving to go home. Murphy hopes an increase in RCMP visibility will lead to increased communication with the community as well.
And on the flipside, bikes also provide a much quieter, less visible option for nighttime patrols.
“And then the second piece is being strategic with the enforcement side of things, and being able to hopefully be proactive and putting resources in the right place at the right time to stop crimes from occurring. Or maybe have people think twice before [committing a crime], and for those who continue to commit crimes I’m hoping that when they come around that corner of the trail they see us,” said Murphy.
As often as resources permit throughout the summer and fall, the bike patrol will be out in different areas of Hinton based on calls for service and crimes reported.
Day shifts and night shifts will be utilized for different reasons, with a minimum of two officers out during a patrol.
“One of our priorities this year is making sure we are doing those proactive patrols in a variety of ways, bike, foot patrols, quad patrols and vehicle patrols,” said Murphy.
He explained that the bike patrol is just one tool of many and that officers are excited that the program is up and running.
“You hear a lot more, you see a lot more, you’re able to get to locations that are pretty tough [to get to] with a vehicle,” said Murphy.
The RCMP recently purchased two new bikes that are identified as police bikes for the patrol program.
“Like any tool implemented we will continue to reassess it as we go throughout the summer, but I do see positive things coming from this,” said Murphy.