The new head of Langleyâ€™s RCMP has taken over policing a growing community that is facing new challenges.
Insp. Murray Power has been with the Langley RCMP since 2013, but he first joined the force in the mid-1980s and said he never looked back once he was in uniform.
Born in Greater Toronto, Power was a 19-year-old working in a warehouse in 1981 when he decided to join the force.
â€œI heard an ad over the radio, I thought, â€˜Now that would be cool,â€™â€ Power said.
He signed up, but was then caught in a hiring freeze. He worked and got married, but when he was 25, the Mounties called and asked if he was still interested.
â€œThere really wasnâ€™t much second thought,â€ Power said. He signed up, with full support from his wife.
He arrived in B.C. as a rookie, assigned to the Mission detachment, in the fall of 1989.
After Toronto, it seemed like a very small and isolated town.
â€œMy wife wondered if we got isolation pay,â€ Power joked.
Missionâ€™s detachment covers a large area, including swathes of logging roads and small communities out almost to Agassiz. It was a big area and a bit of a rough community in the late 1980s. There was a murder the day Power arrived in town.
He worked as a general duty officer, and then tracking down property crime offenders and with general investigations.
With a small detachment â€œyou learn to do all facets of policing yourself,â€ said Power.
After 15 years with Mission, Power was one of the earliest members of IHIT when it expanded into the Fraser Valley. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team was createdin 2003, and when Mission joined in 2004, so did Power.
When the major gang conflicts in the Lower Mainland swamped the team with shootings a few years later, Power saw the workload increase.
There were seven investigative teams at the time. Two were sent to the Surrey Six murder investigation, another took on UN Gang related murders full time. That left the other four, which included Powerâ€™s team, to deal with virtually every other murder in the Lower Mainland outside of Vancouver.
The upside of the amount of work is that the officers learned the best practices for dealing with a murder investigation, Power said.
When his time was up, however, he was ready to move on to something else. In 2009 he became the officer in charge of the Greater Vancouver Drug Section, an RCMP unit that tries to bust larger-scale international drug smugglers.
The work involves a lot of international partnerships, meeting with officers from a variety of other countries.
â€œIt takes patience,â€ said Power.
He came to Langley in 2013. After so long working in specialized units, he had said that he wouldnâ€™t go back to an ordinary detachment, but he grabbed the opportunity to become first Operations Support Officer, and now overall officer in charge.
There are 140 officers assigned to the Langley RCMP, along with civilian employees in jobs such as Victim Services.
There are challenges ahead, Power said.
There are big differences between policing Langley City and the Township, Power notes, and with rapid growth there will be growing pains in parts of the Township. The number of officers assigned to Willoughby and Walnut Grove has increased rapidly in the last few years as the population has gone up in the northwestern corner of the community.
Where you see growth, you will see strain, Power said.
The RCMP detachment will have to grow, but it may take a while, as adding officers is expensive.
â€œNobodyâ€™s going to pre-invest in cops,â€ said Power.
Power is settling into the top job after the departure of former officer in charge Supt. Derek Cooke.
Cooke headed off for a unique job earlier this year â€“ a mission to Jerusalem where heâ€™s advising Palestinian police officers and helping as they build up a professional police service.