The new officer in charge of the Ridge Meadows detachment wants to make sure the community is getting the best bang for its buck.
Policing is human-resources intense, said Inspector Dave Fleugel, who took over two weeks ago as the officer in charge of the detachment that oversees Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and for him, the economics of policing is the top priority - as it is for many police departments these days.
Policing can only be done by human beings - and they need expensive training and equipment, Fleugel pointed out, so as an organization, the RCMP needs to be efficient and effective.
"Police are an expensive thing for a municipal government to maintain," Fleugel said. "... we want to make sure the return on investment is high - the efficiency that we're able to demonstrate is good."
And in order to do an efficient and effective job, police need to know where crime is happening, so that they are "productive - not just busy," Fleugel said.
Police can't just go to random places with their discretionary time - they need to go to hotspots were they know crimes occur.
This means having the best crime information, and having officers in place where crime is happening, "cops on the dots," Fleugel said.
"If we get those cops on the dots, we're going to be much more effective in what we do and that's really what it's all about today - are we effective, are we efficient, what's the return on investment. That's what the economics of policing is."
The Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows area has a population that is young and growing, and that is the demographic that needs the most police services, Fleugel explained.
But before he can ask municipal governments for more money, Fleugel said he needs to make sure he's squeezed every efficiency of the organization - only then can he think about adding more people.
His job is to make sure the detachment is running efficiently, including looking at what services really belong to the RCMP, and what can perhaps be done by other agencies.
"We need to be accountable for the efforts we're making," Fleugel said.
The RCMP keeps close tabs on their activities, for example, tracking tickets issued, hot spot attendance, and so forth.
"If we're not able to influence the crime rate... I want to be able to tell the community it's not like we're sitting in the office twiddling our thumbs, we are out there..." Fleugel said, adding that "we collect a lot of data because we feel it's important to be able to tell our story on what we're doing."
Currently, there are 112 officers and 44 support staff working at the Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment.
This includes the general duty, major crimes unit, street enforcement unit, community programs unit, and the traffic unit.
The biggest challenge police officers have is dealing with people at the lowest point of their lives, Fleugel said, when they are facing their biggest personal challenges, be it addictions, a crisis, or being the victim of a crime.
"There are not too many days that are worse than those," Fleugel said. "That's what the police officer responds to all the time - that's their full-time employment."
A trend Fleugel has noticed with new recruits coming into the RCMP is that they often bring with them a lot of life experience.
Many new officers come to the force as a second career - they might be former teachers, auto mechanics, or other professions.
Fleugel said the best police officers are "expert communicators" because they are constantly negotiating with people. They have to earn people's trust and be firm but not too firm.
They also have to be articulate in their legal grounds, he said, and professional witnesses as they present testimony that will assist in cases.
Police officers are also problem-solvers and need to think quickly on their feet and assess whatever situation they find themselves in.
"They can't sit back and do a study," Fleugel said. "They're the air traffic controller for so many things."
Policing is much more than a nine-to-five occupation.
"It's not really a job to the people doing it - it's not really profession," Fleugel said. "It's a duty - it never shuts off."
But it's not doom and gloom, Fleugel said; there are a lot of community events that he encourages his officers to attend.
When the RCMP are at community events, residents often come up to them and talk with them and ask to have their picture taken with them.
The police also receive a lot of thank you notes from citizens and victims, Fleugel said.
"The citizens of the community are very supportive of the police," he added.
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