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More to police biking than pedaling in Richmond

The Richmond News got a sneak peek at officers being examined for a spot on the Bike Patrol Unit

Alan Campbell / Richmond News, May 22, 2018

Two bike patrol candidates (hi-vis vests) arrest a "suspect" as part of their examinations in Richmond.  Photograph By ALAN CAMPBELL

They spot a shady deal going down behind a building and decide to investigate.

The two suspects then break rank and split in opposite directions, sparking the pair of officers into a bike versus foot pursuit.

Do the officers stick together? Which one of the two suspects do the officers go after? Is he armed? And which side should they close him down from?

These were all factors the officers had to evaluate and act on in the space of a few seconds at Richmond RCMP headquarters on No. 5 Road last week.

The 15 Mounties were being examined and tested in their bid to become part of the Richmond detachment’s Bike Patrol Unit, one of – if not the only – full-time one of its kind in B.C.

Two of them will make the team in Richmond, boosting the unit’s four-officer complement by 50 per cent, while the rest, if they pass, will be deployed to neighbouring detachments across the province.

Throughout the training regime, the candidates have been out at Iona Beach, on the shooting range, negotiating stairs, in the classroom and going through fitness testing, as well as being presented with tactical scenarios.

“The candidates do not know what to expect and they will be marked on how they deal with the situation,” said Richmond RCMP’s Cpl. Dennis Hwang, as two candidates pursued a would-be drug dealer around the back of the police HQ.

“They have to consider how they use their force intervention options and how they use their partner and how they use cover or shielding.

“(During training) they’re learning how to change flats on the fly, how to fall properly, how to descend stairs quickly and were tested on how to shoot while using the bike; there are very specific techniques to utilize while on a bike.

“And you don’t want to be in any kind of crossfire situation, so you have to consider what side of a suspect you are approaching them from.”

Richmond RCMP’s bike unit, added Hwang, can be deployed right out of the HQ, at No. 5 Road just south of Steveston Highway, or up to eight bikes can be loaded into a van and taken to where they need to be in the city.

“They operate mostly in the downtown core, because they can move around quickly and can cover a lot of ground, plus, you don’t hear them coming,” explained Hwang.

“They are very discreet and can track shoplifters, car criminals, just about anything and they give medical assistance to people who’ve collapsed, as well.”

And it’s not just a case of whomever is wearing shorts that day is the one who goes on bike patrol.

The ones who make bike patrol, said Hwang, tend to have a specific set of skills.

“They’re usually very good at finding things and discovering things; they can be very self-sufficient,” he said.

“If they’re dropped into a problem area, they usually know the players. A lot of them are more seasoned with a lot of service behind them.

“Our best piece of equipment is generally our head and our mouth. You can resolve a lot of conflict and situations without the use of anything else.”

When the new Richmond Community Police Station #3 opens up at Granville and Gilbert, the soon-to-be-inflated Bike Patrol Unit is going to base itself there.

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