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Two RCMP officers ride bicycles while on patrol.

RCMP tackles proactive priorities in Prince George, B.C.

The Downtown Safety Unit conducts high-visibility patrols throughout Prince George's downtown core. Credit: RCMP


Two dedicated RCMP teams in Prince George, B.C. are successfully targeting drug trafficking, property crime and prolific offenders to make the community safer.

The Street Crew Unit and the Downtown Safety Unit (DSU) focus on similar issues, but approach them in different ways, while maintaining public safety in and around the city.

"General duty policing in Prince George can easily see 100 calls in a day," says S/Sgt. Darin Rappel, operations support non-commissioned officer in the northern B.C. city. "These specialized sections can focus on proactive policing."

The DSU concentrates on the downtown, addressing stakeholder concerns and supporting vulnerable populations, while the Street Crew has a wider mandate, tackling criminal activity across the city.

Fighting Drugs

Enforcing drug trafficking is especially important in light of the opioid crisis. After a period of decline, the city of 74,000 saw a ten-year high of overdose deaths in 2020, recording 58 deaths.

There have been 16 deaths in the first four months of 2021.

"We try to stem the flow of drugs and try to find those responsible for introducing that poison to the most vulnerable," says RCMP Sgt. Chad Chamberlain, Street Crew Unit leader.

The Street Crew – staffed by plainclothes officers – primarily targets mid-to-high level drug traffickers.

"We develop our own intelligence, work our own intelligence and follow the intel on crime trends and emerging threats that we should be addressing," says Chamberlain.

The unit's drug investigation expertise allows them to support other Prince George RCMP teams as they apply for warrants, write reports and prepare for court.

The DSU conducts drug investigations, and if an officer witnesses a hand-to-hand drug transaction or encounters drug traffickers, it can spark a larger investigation. That means the DSU can stay up-to-date with what's happening and share what officers learn with other RCMP teams.

"We often communicate with the downtown population and know when there's a bad batch of drugs or more overdoses," says RCMP Cst. Amrit Dhadwal, who works on the DSU.

Prolific offenders and property crimes

Prolific offenders and property crime are also high on the units' radars. Often, a small number of people commit those crimes, such as auto-theft and burglary.

Chamberlain says auto thefts, which are a Street Crew priority, are regularly connected to other offences. Stolen vehicles are used to commit other crimes and the proceeds are used to buy drugs.

"Stolen goods are like a currency," says Chamberlain.

When the DSU was conducting a 'boost-and-bust' operation in April and May, where RCMP officers target shoplifting, all 19 people investigators dealt with were known to police.

The DSU also conducts high-visibility bike-and-foot patrols, throughout downtown to remind the public and potential offenders police are around.

The unit's link with downtown stakeholders, residents and community organizations allows them to connect people in need with support services.

"We'll speak with people with mental health or addiction concerns and try to get them help," says Dhadwal.

The focus on intelligence sharing amongst both teams helps officers tackle issues before they become bigger problems.

"When we're putting pressure on the criminal element, they're not as brazen with the violence and the retribution," says RCMP Cst. Dan Morris, who works on the Street Crew.

Rappel adds that both units are dedicated to reducing crime and ensuring public safety.

"Ultimately, the impact is making the city safer and reducing the workload felt by our general duty officers," he says.

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