Joanne Egan

On the lookout

Citizens on Patrol enhance policing in Sidney and North Saanich

Joanne Egan slips around Sidney and North Saanich streets seemingly unnoticed. She always has a partner in the car seat next to her and a cellphone on hand.

“You’re alert, you’re looking,” she says. “I’m always exhausted the next day.”

Egan is a member of the Citizens on Patrol Society that keeps watch over the area.

“We get in our own vehicles and we drive around for four hours,” she says. “Anything we see that’s out of the ordinary, we call it in and the police take over.”

On nearly every shift Egan makes a call to dispatch to report something. The volunteers are always on the lookout for the obvious – such as illegal beachfires – or situations where their intuition throws up a red flag.

Egan and her husband started volunteering after retirement. In her career, Egan worked in a civilian capacity alongside police and felt the COPS program was a good fit.

“I wanted to give back to the community,” she says.

“It’s a very nice feeling to be patrolling in this community. It feels like a very safe community to me.”

The first patrol went out in July 2009, in response to Sidney-North Saanich RCMP’s tackling of the vandalism problem.

“We started as a result of Sgt. (Wayne) Conley’s desire for a patrol program to be a set of eyes and ears for the uniformed members,” says society president and founding member Bill Rothery, who worked 22 years as a civil member with the Esquimalt Police Department.

In conjunction with the Town of Sidney and the town’s Police Advisory Committee, of which Rothery was a member, they researched and implemented COPS.

“It’s a partnership between the town, police and volunteers, collaborating together to enhance public safety and reduce property crime,” says Conley. “Right from the get-go, there was total support from the Town of Sidney. They made it a priority.”

The objectives for COPS are to reduce crime against property and people, reduce graffiti and enhance traffic and pedestrian safety.

“They help focus on some specific areas to make the community safer,” Conley says.

Alongside other policing strategies, the volunteer program is having an impact, he says, with three straight years of reductions in vandalism.

“It’s very difficult to measure … but what I see is we have volunteers who care about their community. And we know that the community and police have to work together. It’s an added enhancement to policing.”

At the start of a shift the volunteers go out with a bag of supplies: flashlights, fire extinguisher, high-visibility vest, clipboard with report forms and a gas card, GPS and computer. With the laptop, COPS volunteers participate in the Stolen Auto Recovery program run by ICBC. They routinely check license plates in search of stolen cars.

At the end of the shift, the volunteers complete an observations report that goes back to the local detachment, providing another resource for officers.

While Rothery and Egan have worked alongside police agencies before, that experience isn’t necessary. Volunteers are interviewed, asked to submit to a police background check, then trained before heading out on a COPS shift.

For more information or to volunteer call Egan at 250-655-2927 or Rothery at 250-656-9293.

reporter@peninsulanewsreview.com

 

 

Just Posted

Pacific FC signs 24-year-old defensive midfielder from Panama

González joins the roster following the team’s 2-2 tie game against York9 FC.

Famed Syrian artist displays paintings created while living in refugee camps

Farid Abdulbaki’s ‘Between Two Worlds’ exhibit will be displayed May 24-26 in Victoria

Victoria police investigate dumpster fire in gated alleyway

VicPD and Victoria Fire Department respond to fire on Johnson Street

Mighty Garage Sale offers boost to Metchosin groups

Metchosin Community Association holds annual sale on May 25 and 26

SidFest 7 ready to rock the Mary Winspear Centre

The Bankes Brothers and Madrona Drive headlining May 24 concert

VIDEO: Horseshoe pitching association appeals to Greater Victora youngsters

Youth horseshoe pitching club offers fun for all ages, says GVHPA

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Most Read