Two years ago, Cpl. Mohammad (Mo) Beyhaghi, a member of the Langley RCMP, took the role of Aldergrove’s community policing officer.
He works out of the office in Aldergrove, on the south side of Fraser Highway, as well as from his trusty steed – his RCMP cruiser.
It’s a big area to cover: Beyhaghi is responsible for an area from the Canadian-U.S. border north to – and including – Gloucester industrial park, west to 232nd Street to east to Abbotsford.
“It’s a big jurisdiction,” he said. “I patrol the perimeter sometimes… to make sure the kingdom is okay. That’s why I’m sometimes referred to as the sheriff of Aldergrove.”
Beyhaghi’s sense of humour and easy smile belies a significant policing career.
He’s been a Mountie for close to 20 years in various roles and spent time in 2011 and 2012 in Afghanistan helping to mentor that country’s police force.
“You go there, you appreciate life,” he noted.
Now stationed in Aldergrove, his role is to provide a local police touch point for the community, as well as law enforcement and input.
“I look for problem areas in the community,” Beyhaghi explained. “Reports coming from the public… I’ll go investigate. I’ll connect with community members in the neighbourhood.”
Like most places, Aldergrove has its problem areas. But Beyhaghi has helped to reduce or control criminal activities in a few neighbourhoods. South Otter was problematic with break and enters.
“All you need is a few criminals,” he said of how it starts.
“A house where someone has rented this house and allows for illegal dealings. Stolen vehicle parts, drugs… These are prolific offenders. That’s their career. Residences in the surrounding area usually get affected.”
Based on RCMP analysis of the area, the number of incidents in South Otter has declined since Beyhaghi took action.
Generally the hot area (most likely to see higher crime activity) is the band that runs three to four blocks north and three to four blocks south of Fraser Highway. Of course other pockets (like the South Otter) may pop up as well, he said.
For instance, when a problem house is identified, Beyhaghi will use all the tools at his disposal to put a stop to the issues.
“In a lot of cases the property owner doesn’t know what’s going on,” he said.
“We usually convince owners to evict the tenant,” he said, noting methods may include calling on bylaw officers or increasing patrols.
Beyhaghi finds that property crimes and thefts from vehicles are the prime concern in the region, and he counts on residents to help him control the illegal activities.
“Police can not do the job by themselves,” he said. “That’s the whole purpose of community policing. People are in their neighbourhoods, they see what’s happening. If they report all suspicious activity then we know what’s going on.”
When a problem area is identified, more resources are deployed in order to get to the bottom of the issues.
“I like to help the community,” noted Beyhaghi. “I chose this career to help the people. We are here as the police to serve them. Don’t be shy. Come to us.”
He also enjoys the interactive nature of his job. He attends business meetings, festivals, and events, but also heads up activities within Aldergrove aimed at preventing crimes from happening.
A community consultative group was started in the Aldergrove community policing office in October as a pilot project where stakeholders come together to identify issues and explore solutions.
And, a recent campaign called Own Your Neighbourhood helped to promote Block Watch to the region and the importance of neighbours looking out for one another.
“People who are at home during the day may see something,” noted Beyhaghi. “It is a pretty effective program in crime reduction.”
In addition to working with residents, Beyhaghi also spends time with local businesses to ensure the information needed for safety and prevention is available. This may include a free Crime Prevention through Environmental Design review.
“I think to have a liaison officer in these offices, it makes it easier for the community to get in touch with us,” he summarized of his role. “Because it’s a 10 to 15 minute drive to Langley.”
While Beyhaghi will admit he can’t solve every problem in the community, he is certainly prepared to use all of his experience and resources to try to make Aldergrove an ideal place to live and do business.