Saturday August 30, 2014

Volunteers needed to patrol city


Yorkton’s Citizens on Patrol Program (COPP) is looking for a few good men and women to beef up its ranks.

At its peak, the volunteer organization that acts as “extra eyes and ears for the RCMP” boasted some 60 members patrolling seven days a week, but in recent years membership has been dwindling.

“We’re losing more than we’re gaining,” said W, COPP president, noting that this is a perennial problem for most volunteer organizations these days as the post-war generation ages and passes on.

Currently, the program has 25 active members logging hundreds of hours and thousands of kilometres, mostly on weekends, assisting police in detecting criminal incidents, providing traffic control at accidents or fires and searching for missing persons among other things.

“The benefits of this are, hopefully, to help the police cut down a bit of the crime,” W said. “They can’t be everywhere and sometimes we’ve been able to catch a break and enter in progress or an assault, that type of thing.”

In fact, since its inception in 1996, COPP has been credited with hundreds of reported incidents, many of which have led to arrests and convictions.

Although smaller than it once was, the Yorkton program, the first of its kind in the province, is still recognized as one of the best in Canada.

W’s reason for getting involved was a sense of duty.

“My philosophy on being a human being and a resident is that we owe the community something,” he said. “The community provides us with services and recreational facilities and whatnot and we owe the community some kind of community service. Every one of us should do something for the community.”

It is easy to sign up with a simple application and criminal record check.

“Anybody that’s over 18 and has a valid driver’s licence and a clean record is welcome,” W said.

The program, financially supported by SGI, the City of Yorkton, private donors and member fundraising events, owns three fully equipped patrol cars and its own radio communications system.

There is no minimum or maximum time commitment.

“People can go out as much or as little as they want and whenever they want,” W explained.

Although the purpose of COPP is giving back, W said it is also personally gratifying.

“I think it’s a source of pride to give back to the community and just being a member of a community organization that’s recognized by the community gives you a sense of satisfaction,” he said.

People not wishing or able to get involved physically can contribute financially. Yorkton COPP is a fully accredited non-profit charitable organization and issues tax receipts for donations of more than $10.

Prospective volunteers or financial contributors can contact COPP at 306.621.7361 (daytime), 306.782.3197 (evenings) or through the RCMP municipal detachment at 306.786.2400.



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