Five on the Fifth – Why you’ll see police in your neighbourhood


2019-09-05 14:30 PDT

One of the most frequent questions we see on our social media feed is Why are there police cars speeding on my street with lights and sirens?. Another common question is Why is there a police car parked on my street?. This month’s Five on the Fifth wants to help put your mind at ease and provide some answers to these and other questions about what police may be in your neighbourhood.

Why are there police cars speeding down my street with lights and sirens?

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not to beat the line-up at the local donut shop. There are a number of reasons why police will drive fast, with sirens blaring and lights flashing, including responding to:

When police are driving with their lights and sirens, it means there is an emergency and time is of the essence—if you are driving, you must move over as soon as it is safe to do so. More on what to do when emergency vehicles approach with lights and sirens.

So much paperwork

For every person who finds comfort and feels safer when they see police parked on their street, there’s another who thinks it means their neighbourhood is dangerous. So why do police choose to park where they do? While there is no one answer, paperwork, such as writing reports or following up on files, is the primary reason you’ll see Mounties working in their vehicles.

Where officers choose to do the work depends on a variety of factors, however working in a jurisdiction that covers nearly 185 km2 means it doesn’t make sense for frontline members to return to the main detachment or community police station after every call. At times their choice of location is driven by intelligence provided by our Crime Analysts, perhaps the area is in a hotspot identified in the bi-weekly CompStat Alert . Other times, officers are in an area following up on reports of suspicious activity. Alternatively, a police officer may be parked in a neighbourhood based on the fact that it is the area they’ve been assigned to patrol, and not due to to any suspicious or criminal activity.

Why are there police cars speeding down my street without lights and sirens?

While it is often important to let people know that the police are on their way, there are times when speed is of the essence, but so is some discretion. When police are approaching a crime in progress and they decide that using their lights and sirens might actually make the situation more unsafe (perhaps by alerting the suspect or worsening a mental-health crisis) police may disengage the sirens in order to resolve the situation safely. If you ever see a situation where you think one of our officers is operating their vehicle unsafely, you may call us at 604-945-1550 so we can review the incident.

Want to feel safer and more secure in your neighbourhood? Join your local Block Watch.

According to the members of the Coquitlam RCMP Block Watch program, the best reasons for being part of the program include:

Why are there 5 police cars parked in my cul-de-sac?

The number of officers deployed to a call depends on the type of call. Keeping in mind that Mounties generally ride alone in their vehicles, it is not uncommon to have at least two vehicles arrive on the scene.

When there is a concern for public or officer safety, more officers will be dispatched. For example, a report of someone with a firearm, will result in a greater number of officers deployed, even when the firearm is a BB gun. Dispatchers and officers work with the limited resources provided by a 9-1-1 caller. Other times you may see a number of police cars in area as a result of officers canvassing an area after a crime was committed in the vicinity or after a motor vehicle incident, such as a hit and run.

Five on the fifth is an occasional series of five lesser known facts about well-known crime and safety issues. Five on the Fifth is compiled and released by the Coquitlam RCMP Communications and Public Affairs Team when the 5th of the month falls on a weekday. Follow #FiveOnTheFifth on Twitter to get the latest updates.

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