Clinton RCMP are hoping to start a Citizens on Patrol (COP) program in Clinton and area (including Loon Lake, 70 Mile, and Green Lake), and are now looking for residents who are interested in taking part.
“We have 13 people interested so far, and we need an absolute minimum of six,” says Cst. Marika Masters of the Clinton RCMP, who is organizing the program. “The more the merrier. We’d like to get to at least 15, as some people drop out before starting.”
Citizens on Patrol is a community-based crime prevention program that works under the local law enforcement agency. Dedicated community volunteers work with the police by patrolling designated areas to observe any possible criminal activity, acting as an extra set of eyes and ears to help deter crime in the community.
“People give whatever time they can,” says Masters. “It could be an hour or two a week or a month. There’s no mandatory minimum. We generally get a lot of retired people who want to give back to their community.”
The patrol is not designed to replace police, but allows police to direct their focus to other areas of potential crime. The day-to-day operation of the patrol would be supervised by the Clinton RCMP and the program chairperson.
Masters, who has been stationed in Clinton for a year, hopes to get the COP program up and running in the community by September. When she was stationed in Duncan she had an opportunity to see the COP program up close, and while it was run by someone else she was quite involved with it.
An area where the COP volunteers could focus is on speed enforcement in the community, particularly on Highway 97 through Clinton; something Masters says they receive complaints about.
“I suggested this might be a good idea, as we’re a small detachment in a large area and can’t always be set up doing traffic enforcement during our shifts. It would be helpful to have extra eyes and ears in the community giving us an idea of the actual speed of traffic during a one- or two-hour period. Members would report back to us and give us an idea of where a good place would be to enforce traffic regulations.
“We could also inform people of how fast vehicles are actually going. We would have a portable speed board set up with signs and cones, telling drivers ‘Your speed is …’, and the volunteers would record the speeds.”
Another area of concern is some of the more rural and remote areas, such as Loon Lake and Green Lake. “You get break and enters, and suspicious people, which is something that COP can help with,” says Masters. “It’s very rural, and such a vast area that we can’t be out there all the time.
“You get crimes of opportunity because there are empty properties, and it’s isolated. Recently someone stole egg money from a stand at the side of the road at Loon Lake, so we wouldn’t mind having some people out of Loon Lake, or 70 Mile or 83 Mile or Watch Lake, as we have issues in those areas as well. In Duncan we had people come out on patrol for a couple of hours a night and report back anything they found suspicious.”
She adds that they are thinking of operating the Clinton COP program under the 100 Mile House chapter in order to streamline things.
“We could run under their program, as there are finances involved. We have to do some fundraising for equipment and operating costs, and to pay for the use of people’s personal vehicles.”
In order to join the Clinton and area Citizens on Patrol team, you must be 19 or older and be either a resident of the Clinton area, or the owner/operator of a business in the Clinton area. Volunteers must be of good character, pass a security screening (required by the RCMP), and satisfy the chairperson of their genuine commitment to the deterrence of unlawful activity in the community.
Volunteers must participate in training sessions, follow all COP policies and procedures, keep and maintain proper records, and be a positive and respectful presence in the community.
Anyone who would like to find out more about the proposed Clinton Citizens on Patrol program can contact Cst. Masters by calling the Clinton RCMP detachment at (250) 459-2221.