Citizens an extra set of eyes

The Grand Forks Citizens on Patrol (COP) is one of hundreds across the country. The group currently has 20 members but is looking for more.

Grand Forks Citizens on Patrol.

Grand Forks Citizens on Patrol.

If you’ve been the victim of theft or other crimes, there is often a sense of hopelessness. Sure you can go online and complain or talk to friends but where does that really get you? If you want to really make a difference in your community, why not join the local Citizens on Patrol.

The group meets once a month on the third Thurssday of every month and patrols go out once a week.

“We do patrols and help out the police by being the eyes and ears for them where they can’t be,” said one member, who is not named as per group policy.

The Grand Forks Citizens on Patrol (COP) is one of hundreds across the country. The group currently has 20 members but is looking for more in order to maintain their weekly patrols.

“We try to patrol once a week,” she said. “The city has given us a vehicle and they also supply the fuel. They’ve extended us permission in order to take the vehicle into RDKB Area D. This is given us a wider range of patrolling area. Sometimes more happens outside the city limits than inside.”

The patrols last three hours and are conducted in the evening usually from 9 p.m. until midnight or 8 p.m. until 11 p.m.

“Two people are always in the vehicle and we have what’s called a ‘home base’ person where they are in touch with the patrol vehicle every half hour,” she said.

The volunteer said the patrols have witnessed many different things such as confrontations between people leaving the bars, kids behaving badly, activities occuring under the black train bridge. She said that the patrollers are not allowed to get out of the car. “We just observe and report,” she said. “We usually get a report from the RCMP about trouble spots so we can keep an eye on those areas in addition to the supervision of the RCMP.”

Grand Forks Citizens on Patrol began in 2002 when a city councillor thought it help cut down on crime in the city.

“People were complaining about crimes and thefts and that kind of thing,” the councillor said. “So I got together with a group of people and asked if they’d be interested in starting a Citizens on Patrol. The RCMP offered us training and it’s been going ever since.”

The RCMP are happy with the help they get from the group and continue to work closely with Citizens on Patrol.

The representative from COP the Gazette spoke to said it would certainly be nice to get some “new blood” in the group. She said it can be a very rewarding experience helping out keeping your community safe. The monthly meetings, which are held in the Community Futures building, are beneficial for touching base and discussing tactics, she added.

“People talk about incidences they’ve observed,” she said. “The police sometimes come and give extra training to augment the understanding of how to deal with situations. We also set the patrol schedules for the next coming weeks.”

She said the group had the opportunity to tour the RCMP call centre in Kelowna several years ago and saw how it worked. They hope to return next year.

If interested in joining, please visit the Grand Forks RCMP detachment office.