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Tri-City policing won't be affected by loss of officers to Olympic security, say cops

Two dozen Tri-City police officers will be taking part in Olympic security measures.

Two dozen Tri-City police officers will be taking part in Olympic security measures.

A total of 23 Coquitlam RCMP members and two Port Moody Police officers have been seconded to the Integrated Security Unit responsible for security at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. They're part of a contingent of 15,000 police officers and private security people stationed outside event venues, on city streets and at the airport.

The Coquitlam contingent represents just over 10% of the detachment's total number of officers.

"The important thing to remember is that we've had lots of time to get ready and we have a plan in place to continue providing excellent local police service and be ready to deal with any issues that might arise within existing resources," said Insp. Claude Wilcott, the acting officer-in-charge.

He added that to maintain local policing levels, the RCMP has restricted leave so no officers have been able to book time off since Jan. 15.

"What this means for the communities we serve is that they won't see any difference in the level of local police service because of the Olympics and there won't be any extra cost involved," Wilcott said.

In addition to the two PoMo officers, several more will be working security at the city's rec centre, where figure skaters from Canada, the U.S. and Great Britain will be practising during the Games.

"For security reasons, we can't give out the numbers but we will be there in uniform," said PMPD Const. Bill Kim, adding that the rec centre security will not mean fewer officers on regular patrol duties.

"We have taken into consideration the Olympics. Patrol shifting and everything has been accommodated or adjusted to meet security needs without compromising patrol duties," Kim said.

Security for the Olympics is estimated to cost $900 million, of which B.C. pays just over $243 million. The federal government pays the rest, or about $648 million.

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CELLPHONE FINES

After the first week of enforcing legislation banning hands-on use of cellphones and other electronic devices, both Coquitlam RCMP and Port Moody Police are reporting few violations.

In Coquitlam and PoCo, Mounties have issued just five violation tickets after the distracted driver legislation went into effect Feb. 1.

"What we've noticed is a significant decrease in the number of drivers using hand-held electronic devices," said RCMP Const. Kristina Biro in an email. "That's good news for us because it means that people are paying attention to the new legislation and they're paying attention to road safety."

In Port Moody, Sgt. Travis Carroll estimated officers have issued only a handful of tickets as well. Traffic officers conducted enforcement in a couple of locations last week and ended up with more seatbelt violations than cellphone offences.

"I have a feeling though that some people may relax a bit after a couple of weeks" and get back on their phones, Carroll said.

He reminded motorists that under the new provincial legislation, drivers can't be holding a phone or other device - and that means no sending or reading text messages or emails and no sending or receiving calls unless it's with a hands-free device.

spayne@tricitynews.com