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Citizens on Patrol needs volunteers

By Lesley Allan

Copied from the May 3, 2011 issue

Are you interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement? Or do you want to help ensure the streets of Drayton Valley are safe and crime free? If so the Drayton Valley RCMP are looking for you to become part of their Citizens On Patrol program (C.O.P.).

First established in 2004, Drayton Valley C.O.P. is meant to provide assistance to police by patrolling the community observing areas for potential crime. Acting as an extra set of "eyes and ears" C.O.P.  volunteers are not meant to replace police, but rather allow officers to focus on other areas of crime prevention.

"We can't be everywhere, all the time, so it's important for people to get involved in their community and help us to help them," says Cst. Amanda Herring of the Drayton Valley RCMP. "Citizens on Patrol is a great tool for the RCMP in being able to perhaps see things that we would miss or just being the eyes and ears when we can't be."

Since established, the volunteer based program has proven it's beneficial in the fight against crime and holding guilty parties responsible. Helping in areas of vandalism and reckless driving, Herring credits volunteers for making sure justice has been served.

"We've had great success with [volunteers] reporting impaired drivers. We've had several convictions based on information given by citizens on patrol," she said.

Drayton Valley RCMP Staff Sgt. Brian Jones echoes this idea saying that many times volunteers are able to bear witness to activities that the police would not.

"If we have areas that have been targeted by break-ins or there's been an increase in suspicious activity we can ask them to keep an eye on that area," he explains. "They're in unmarked vehicles and have the ability to observe people's natural reactions without them being aware that someone's watching."

Volunteers in the program are expected to work a minimum of one shift a month, as well as attend a monthly meeting, the next of which will be taking place on May 14. The only requirements that need to be met in order to become part of C.O.P.  program is that volunteers must be 18 years of age or older, pass security screening required by the RCMP and have a genuine interest and passion for upholding law.

There are no membership fees and the only contribution that is expected is time and a personal vehicle. Volunteers patrol in pairs, so couples and friends are encouraged to join the program together. Upon joining C.O.P. you will be trained by veteran patrollers who can share experiences and tips to use while on patrol.

"I've been very impressed with the dedication and commitment of the core volunteer base that we have in town," says Jones. "I just have so much respect for the work that they do and the hours that they work"

If you'd like more information or would like to volunteer with citizens on patrol, you can visit www.draytonvalleycop.com or contact the Drayton Valley RCMP detachment at (780) 542-4456.