THE first day that the Delta Police’s new bike unit was in operation, members arrested a suspected shoplifter at Tsawwassen Mills shopping mall.
“We stopped her just a she was going to her car,” says Constable Jeff Miller, with the Tsawwassen First Nations Services Team. “She told me, ‘I was going to run, but then I looked at you, and thought, forget it.’” Miller gestures down at his bike patrol uniform and rugged mountain bike, which allows him to easily bike over curbs, downstairs and more.
The bike unit just started in mid-June, and is a new addition to the Delta Police Tsawwassen First Nations (TFN) Services Team. TFN lands are flat, with a number of trails, and readily lend themselves to policing on bike.
“It just makes us that much more accessible,” says Sergeant Roy Garnham, who heads up the unit. “Rather than being in cars, behind windows, we’re finding already that people are stopping us more, waving at us, just wanting to have a quick chat.”
He points out that the bikes are very convenient as well, saying he can get from the TFN administrative offices to the mall in three minutes – sometimes faster than what they might be able to do in the car, dependent on traffic.
He and Miller took a specialized one-week course which teaches police officers bike-specific tactics, as well as training on how to do power slides, travel safely down stairs, and more.
They wear their regular duty belts, as well as a police uniform modified for use on bikes, consisting of shorts and short sleeved shirt, and of course the helmet. The bikes are specially designed for law enforcement use, with heavy-duty 29” tires.
“They’re not exactly light weight,” Garnham notes wryly.
Delta Police has had a bike unit in the past, but it’s been about 15 years since it was active. Garnham thinks the unit is the perfect fit for the Tsawwassen First Nations.
“It just makes so much sense here, and the public response so far has been outstanding.”