With school being out for the summer, the city's RCMP school resource officers are trading in their book bags for bike helmets as part of the city's bike patrol this summer.
"We are switching to more of a community engagement role. We're going to be covering all the different pathways, the parks, going to the community events, to Genesis Place, to airdrieFEST," said Constable Greg Neufeld of the Airdrie RCMP. "We're trying to get as many teams out there as we can."
However, Constable Neufeld underlined that even though the police will be on bikes, it's unlikely Airdronians will see something akin to the dramatic scenes from 21 Jump Street; the patrol program is about, engagement with Airdrie's residents and education.
"We always want to try and do education first before we have to do the law enforcement bit. We don't want to just throw tickets at people. My partner and I were on patrol at the Big Springs dog park and had dogs running up to us. We made sure to tell the owners that we're going to be coming through here all the time," he said. "Just because it's a leash, dog park doesn't mean that it's only for off-leash dogs. It's for everyone to enjoy."
He also said that the bike patrol is perhaps one of the most pleasant ways to spend a shift in uniform.
"I have told our members that are coming to work if you want a feel-good day, come to work on bike patrol. Everyone that goes by is waving, they're smiling and they're super pumped to see us."
And although education, rather than penalization, is the lynchpin in the program, that doesn't mean tickets won't be issued.
"We've partnered with a couple of the convenience stores here in Airdrie and they've given us Slurpee and coffee coupons. If we see kids that are doing an awesome job wearing their helmets and listening to their parents, we're going out giving a positive ticket; it's called positive ticket reinforcement. We're making sure that we're being that positive vibe in the community as well."
The RCMP will also be monitoring how e-scooters are used. The e-scooters have been in Airdrie for several days now.
"What our management side has done is they have gone out and they have worked with city hall and with bylaw to figure out exactly what is legal, what's not legal and what we're going to be doing with this," he said. "We know exactly where we're starting, where these things are allowed to be, what they're allowed to do, etc. So, we have that knowledge prior to going out."
He cited that one of the advantages of bike patrols, especially in the summer, is that police on bikes can get to more places than police in patrol cars.
"Last year, we were having issues at the 7-11 [Bayside Plaza]. We were having issues with bridge jumping, and a lot of different complaints that were coming in that our patrol officers with their vehicles can't really get to," Constable Neufeld said. "By the time they park and get over there, they may not be able to intercept it. By having the additional members on the bikes and knowing the problem areas that we've had in the past, we're trying to limit that from happening this year."
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