Nine extra sets of eyes and ears have volunteered to keep watch on the police beat after Trail gave its Citizens on Patrol (COP) program a reboot earlier this year.
And, these trained altruists are already making a difference for law enforcement – and the community at-large – by alerting the Mounties when they spot suspicious goings-on.
“There have been a few incidents where the volunteers have reported an activity that resulted in a crime being stopped,” says COP Coordinator Lawrence Best.
“The presence of the COP vehicle deters crime, and the main role of the volunteers while they are patrolling is to take detailed notes and photos of suspicious activity,” he told the Trail Times.
“So the biggest advantage of the patrol is that it acts as a deterrent.”
The program is holding its own for now, however, more eyes and ears are always welcome.
“Over the last few months, the program has been in a transition stage as I have taken over the COP Coordinator position,” Best said.
“The program is holding steady, but we’d like to remind everyone that the program is reliant on volunteer participation to remain effective.”
Anyone who is interested in applying, is encouraged to visit the Trail RCMP detachment and ask for a COP volunteer package.
The forms are also available 24/7 by visiting the city’s website, at www.trail.ca/COP.
As part of signing on, however, Best advises all applicants that a trip to the detachment is required to fill out a criminal record check authorization.
“Once approved, applicants will be invited to a training seminar to go over the policies and procedures of the program,” he explained.
“This is strictly a volunteer opportunity and a minimum of one shift per month is required; however, signing up for more shifts is always appreciated.”
The shifts are generally four hours long and there is a wide variety of time options to help fit into everyone’s schedules.
As far as patrol areas, Best says the COP program receives information from the RCMP regarding problem areas to watch.
Aside from specific points COPs are asked to keep an eye on, they regularly patrol all parks, common areas, and business areas of downtown.
“Having more eyes and ears is a big help in the community regardless of whether any crime has been witnessed or not,” Best said.
“When a patrol happens, and nothing of note is observed, that tells us the program is working.”
When a COP volunteer sees something suspicious, they call the RCMP dispatch directly to report it. While an RCMP member is on their way to the scene, the volunteer continues to watch, take notes, and capture photos from a safe distance.