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'Friendly police officer on foot' to patrol downtown Chilliwack

After years of cajoling and complaining, an RCMP officer has been dedicated to the downtown area of Chilliwack and will start regular foot patrols on Monday.

Const. Ryan Price, a three-year-veteran of policing in Chilliwack, will walk the downtown beat, taking in Salish Park, Salish Plaza and the public library, all identified as crime "hot spots" in the Upper Fraser Valley RCMP detachment's crime reduction strategy.

"We're going to see if this is a productive way of dealing with those crime hot spots," said Cpl. Len VanNieuwenhuizen, head of the RCMP community policing office.

He said the daytime foot patrols should also answer downtown merchants' call for a more visible police presence and comfort customers while dis-comforting the bad guys.

But it's a pilot program at this point, he said.

"We want to be flexible and move on to something better, if it doesn't work," he said.

Kathy Funk, executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement Association, said the presence of "a friendly police officer on foot" in the downtown is seen as a "positive thing," like "an ambassador."

She said the BIA has been lobbying for years for police to resume foot patrols in the downtown, and on Wednesday got "the exciting news" that a police officer would be working alongside the security personnel hired by the BIA.

Price will also be advising merchants on how to prevent crime, and work a late shift Friday night when the Party In The Park is in full swing.

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