What’s it like policing in a small community?

And how does Bowen’s crime rate compare to our neighbours’ in the big city?

Whether you’re new to the island or a long-time resident, it’s easy to fall in love with the arresting beauty that is Bowen. 

But is the reality of the Island as this safe –near mythic– Paradise Found more fiction than fact? We talked to Corporal Paulo Arreaga of Bowen’s RCMP to find out.

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Statistically, Bowen Island is safer than most communities in the Lower Mainland. Between 2007 and 2016, Bowen’s average offences per 1,000 persons was 29.2. Vancouver’s average was 82.1.

In 2016, Vancouver had a total of 7,624 violent crimes compared to 22 for Bowen Island.

Beyond the statistics, Arreaga says that the Island has a welcoming, neighbourly vibe. 

Arreaga attributes the supportive community much in part to everybody being on the same boat.

“Everybody feels each other’s situation,” he says. “They say, ‘Oh I missed the ferry or I’m snowed in. Or the power went out.’” 

“So, we all feel each other’s pain.”

It’s that neighbourly attitude, Arreaga says that is going to keep us safe and happy.

It’s also what he’s going to miss about Bowen Island when he leaves for a new posting this summer. 

“I feel like everybody strives to be a better neighbour, to be a better resident overall, and just to make things work for everybody,” he says. “It makes my life easier well.” 

Arreaga says that he’s community policing oriented. 

“Community Policing is getting to know every aspect of every community as best as you can,” he says. “Whether it’s businesses, agencies, schools, the municipality, the fire firefighters and working with them.

“That way when they see you, they don’t say, ‘Oh there’s a police officer,’ they say, ‘Oh there’s Paulo or there’s so-and-so,’” he says. “It’s more comfortable and trusting.” 

Along with an integrated police presence, Bowen is home to an engaged population. Whether it’s a lost dog or phone, a stalled car, or something unusual on a side road, people watch out for one another. For Paulo, that social media and online connectivity is what further makes Bowen safe. 

The police encourage people to post to a variety of Bowen-centric online forum and Facebook sites. “We encourage it because it does it does help,” he says. “It takes the community to make it safe; not necessarily just police.”

Despite the low criminal activity on Bowen Island, Paulo points out that we do have assaults. We have mischief. We have property crime, which includes break and enters or theft from vehicles. “We can’t be complacent as a community. We are generally safer, but that doesn’t mean we’re untouchable.” 

As part of the Sea-to-Sky regional policing corridor, the Bowen Island RCMP Detachment also has resources at their disposal for serious crimes, whether its forensics, a police dog unit, or even helicopters for ‘search and rescue’ or emergencies. 

“Do knock on our door if you have questions or you want to say ‘Hi’ [The Detachment is located at 1017 Miller Rd]. 

“We’d like to think that we’re very approachable. We drive around getting to know people. And yes, don’t be shy.” 

© Copyright Bowen Island Undercurrent

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