The Citizens on Patrol (COP) is on the lookout for volunteers.
The group, operating in and around Sidney and North Saanich, have 10 members and are seeking at least eight more.
COP has been in existence for around 10 years and pairs of volunteers cruise the streets in their cars, looking out for “suspicious persons or vehicles.” According to Jim Shepherd, a North Saanich resident and member, they tend to focus on schools, parks, construction sites, parking lots and marinas.
“We’re out there to assist the RCMP,” says Shepherd. “Unfortunately the RCMP can’t be everywhere at once so we’re extra eyes and ears.”
Shepherd says that while the group are seeking more volunteers, he is happy to report that incidents are usually few and of a low level. He says successes over the past 12 months include stopping youth enjoy a beachside fire, reporting a man for public intoxication and notifying RCMP of some teenagers climbing on a building.
One of the group’s primary functions is to run licence plate numbers through a special computer program linked to ICBC, which checks for stolen or fraudulent plates. Perhaps reflecting the safe environment in this part of Vancouver Island, in 10 years they have only found one.
Some of COP’s volunteers are first aid trained and while they usually stay within their vehicles, they say they will assist road traffic incidents if they can help.
Staff Sergeant Wayne Conley of the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP says COP do valuable work.
“They are a great partner in our effort to keep Sidney and North Saanich safe places to live and work.”
Volunteers are a mix of working people and retirees, and are equipped with flashlights, reflective arm bands and battery operated lights. Shepherd says while there is no formal training, new recruits will receive mentoring from more experienced members.
Although Sidney and North Saanich enjoy a very low crime rate, COP have been operating for 10 years and run weekend shifts from 7 to 8 p.m. and 9 p.m to 1 a.m.
For more information contact Shepherd at 250-655-9224.