Citizens ready to go on patrol in towns
Diamond Valley: COP program organizers in final planning stages
Wednesday, Mar 08, 2017 11:43 am
Citizens who signed on to be the eyes and ears of their community expect to hit the streets in a month.
The Diamond Valley Citizens on Patrol (COP) program is in the final stages of acquiring corporation status before volunteers can hop in their vehicles and begin patrolling the streets of Black Diamond and Turner Valley.
“We would like to get this done as soon as possible,” said Yvonne Machan, who has been working to get the program off the ground the past few months. “I’m getting tired doing the business end of it and would like to get out patrolling myself.”
A meeting is scheduled for March 8 at 7 p.m. in the Sheep River Library to elect an executive and sign up residents interested in joining. Training is expected to take place at the end of March.
“In the next month we will hopefully be going out patrolling and get going from there,” Machan said. “We hope the volunteers will do one patrol a month, anywhere from four to six hours with a focus on the weekends.”
The Diamond Valley Citizens on Patrol program has recruited 10 members and Machan hopes that will double the next few weeks.
“There is always room for more,” she said. “Hopefully that will pick up once we get out there and get going.”
Machan was a member of a previous COP group in the 1990s and 2000s that folded due to lack of interest. She is working with sister-in-law Loral Luchia to establish a corporation under the umbrella of the Alberta Citizens on Patrol Association.
The decision to bring the program back was prompted by complaints Machan read on a local Facebook group last fall about vehicle thefts in the area. She posted her idea to renew the volunteer program on the Facebook group.
“There’s been a lot of positive feedback with people saying, ‘We really need this,’” she said. “Even if there’s not crime it’s a good preventative kind of thing, which is what we would like to have happen. The RCMP are really stoked. They are really happy we are going to come on board.”
COP liaison officer Cpl. Julie Lagrange of the Turner Valley detachment said Black Diamond and Turner Valley can really benefit from the program.
“I’ve had some very good experiences in the past 20 years with COP, specifically with small-town policing,” she said. “One account is my first post where I arrested two guys for breaking and entering into a jewelry store. I credit the arrest to the two gentlemen driving around that night.”
Lagrange said COP volunteers act as the eyes and ears of the community in ways that local police officers are unable.
“If a crime is going on usually the criminals will hide from a police car,” she said. “With a civilian vehicle they’re not as apt to hide.”
Machan said she plans to increase the program’s exposure by having information booths at community events and is reaching out to local organizations to secure financial support.
“I’ve been paying out of my own pocket,” she said, adding there are costs associated with getting incorporated and obtaining supplies for the member kits. “These little things are adding up.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Diamond Valley COP program must be 18 years or older, have a police record check completed and obtain a valid drivers’ license. The program offers free police record checks.
For more information contact Yvonne Machan at 403-933-5818, 403-988-5537 or firstname.lastname@example.org