Burquitlam Community Association
June 4, 2018 Presentation by Coquitlam RCMP & Transit Police
Many thanks to Jennifer Barker from the Coquitlam RCMP and Justin Bates from the Transit Police who attended our meeting and answered our many questions. Below is a summary of information presented.
They are a Provincial/Municipal Policing Agency with jurisdiction throughout BC (very much like the New Westminster or Vancouver Police); they have authority throughout the province.
They are based mostly on Skytrain or buses but can go beyond those areas and as sworn police officers are duty-bound to intervene elsewhere. They have the authority to pull someone over and they can issue tickets. (Riders found without valid fare are in violation of a bylaw and can be issued a fine by an officer.)
If an incident happened on a bus, they would lead the investigation.
There are approximately 175 Transit officers and they work in partnership with other police agencies.
Their job is proactive-based; typically, they are out walking around greeting people and they use their skills to identify suspects.
At times they respond to calls and they also attend to calls for service.
Most officers work a 4 – 6 station area so they become familiar with that area and can develop local partnerships.
The current response time is 8 – 11 minutes.
Some Transit Police have access to Community Police Office (CPO) / Community Police Station (CPS) sites.
Depending on staff levels available, some Transit Police may work as “plainclothes” officers.
The presence of Transit Police is a reassurance for the public.
Their current operational priorities are:
It was noted that transit crime tends to blend into that of the broader area. Large, urban areas is where transit is usually built, and those areas also tend to be the areas that attract more crime; shopping centres are crime generators. Having Transit doesn’t necessarily increase crime in an area. (The crime rate in Canada and North America has been on a decline for the last couple of decades.)
NOTE: Seniors or others who need to use the washroom at a Skytrain station can approach the attendant for access.
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Question: What are the procedures if there is a (non-emergency) complaint regarding something that occurs on the transit system?
Answer: Individuals can call dispatch at 604 515-8300 or text 877-7777 to report. There is also a mobile app. On the bus, you can notify the bus driver, or, at Skytrain, you can notify the station attendant.
The yellow strip over windows on the Skytrain triggers a silent alarm. If triggered, there will be an attendant at the next stop to respond. The red strip over the door has 2-way communication.
Question: How often is yellow strip pressed?
Answer: People sometimes don’t want to press it because they think the train will stop. Pressing it does not call police. Instead, an attendant will come aboard at the next stop. If everything appears okay, they will move on.
The text number is not advertised well – largely because a separate advertising company does the signage for Transit. The number is on Information Boards. At times, cards with the number are handed out at stations.
*** There was interest in having volunteers from BCA hand these cards out at the Burquitlam Skytrain station. ***
Question: What should you do if you find a Compass Pass?
Answer: Turn it in to Transit. If it has been registered, it can be returned to its owner.
Question: Are we looking at adding facial recognition software?
Answer: Privacy issues limit whether this can be used. Skytrain has cameras but, even so, there is one section that they cannot operate them because the curve in the track would mean the camera would scan houses thereby invading privacy.
Question: Do Transit Police have any say regarding parking in the area?
Answer: No, this is Translink’s responsibility.
Question: Was there any change in the number of Transit Police after the gates were added at the Skytrain stations?
Answer: Yes, there was a small increase. Currently there are 175 officers and plans are to increase that number to 183 during 2018. The force was created approximately 10 years ago with most officers hired at that time being experienced police. Lots of hiring is happening now.
Question: What can we, as a community, do to empower the Transit Police to do their jobs?
Answer: A campaign to raise awareness around sexual assault on transit is coming soon. Adding links about this campaign to our site would be helpful.
Every other week a “CompStat” report is sent out that highlights problem areas and types of crimes that are happening; the report includes links with safety tips. (This report can be found by a Google search for “COMPSTAT in Coquitlam”) *** Add link to this on BCA website ***
CPTED is an acronym for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and is pronounced “septed”. Under CPTED, areas are “owned” and maintained to encourage their use in the way intended. When more people use areas as they are intended to be used, crime decreases. Some elements of CPTED include clear sight lines, consideration around access (i.e. no places where people can hang out without being seen).
Police or professional companies can do CPTED evaluations. Areas done by the police tend to be smaller sites than those the professional companies handle.
RCMP also work with Block Watch, Crime Watch, Community Patrols. These programs are based out of the local Community Police Stations (CPS). The Volunteer & Auxiliary Programs based out of the CPS includes a Block Watch Coordinator.
Officers may chat with people who are wearing backpacks and/or loitering in an area (especially late at night) to determine whether they should be considered suspicious.
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Question (from a 6-year-old): Are RCMP very important for the whole city?
Answer: Absolutely, yes. Besides crime prevention, an RCMP presence increases the feeling of security and has a positive influence on the community.
Question: How has the addition of Skytrain affected crime in the city?
Answer: It was expected that with the opening of the Millennium and Canada Lines would come new opportunities for crime – but that didn’t happen. The Coquitlam RCMP detachment created a unified Crime Reduction Team to deal with the expected crime increase on the Evergreen extension but that also hasn’t happened. Hottest spots for crime on this line would be Coquitlam Centre, Lougheed Mall and Burquitlam but it is the area in general and not the introduction of transit that is the determining factor.
Question: Are we seeing much of the opioid crisis in Coquitlam?
Answer: Although this doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, Jen reported that she had not read any reports of anyone in this area passing away from that and believes the problem is not as severe in this area.
Question: Are there any upcoming changes related to the planned legalization of marijuana?
Answer: Officers are receiving more training around drug detection / sobriety testing, particularly for drivers.
Question: Are empty buildings being checked by police?
Answer: These buildings are not specifically being targeted but the public is encouraged to call if they see anything untoward (i.e. doors left open, copper wires being taken, etc.)
Question: What’s the story on cameras at intersections?
Answer: In most cases, what look to be cameras at intersections is equipment to change the light cycle; these point downward. Speed cameras are gone but red-light cameras are still around with some of them actively working and some just in place as deterrents.
Question: Do RCMP have any special training for car chases?
Answer: Yes, there are police car driving trainings, but they seldom use these for pursuit because of the high risk to others.
Question: What is the role of RCMP in a major disaster?
Answer: The primary role of RCMP during a disaster is to ensure public safety, whatever that may entail. The Coquitlam detachment has an Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.
** Image- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98DKIQEcP4o