There’s lots of talk about rural crime, Slave Lake resident, Lindsay Weetman, has a suggestion – to restart Citizens on Patrol (C.O.P.). She was a member of C.O.P. in Vegreville and Slave Lake.
C.O.P.s “help police fight crime by being their eyes and ears,” Weetman says.
Patrols walk, bike, or drive around the area in pairs or more and call the police if they see anything illegal.
This is not a vigilante movement, says Weetman. Patrols don’t apprehend criminals.
The Slave Lake C.O.P. closed several years ago, because there were no board members and only three people willing to patrol. As patrols require at least two people, this wasn’t enough people to keep it going.
Weetman is willing to let her name stand as president of a Slave Lake C.O.P. board.
Setting up a C.O.P. is going to take time, says Weetman. The first step is getting a full board, which is six or eight people. There also needs to be at least 12 volunteers willing to patrol, before Weetman would consider doing the next step.
Once volunteers are in place, the board would approach the RCMP about getting a liaison. With a liaison, the C.O.P. could then apply for registration with Citizens on Patrol Alberta.
Volunteers must have a criminal record check, fill out a two page form, do a ride along with an RCMP officer or C.O.P. patrol, and be approved by the RCMP liaison.
Not all of these steps can be finished until the C.O.P. is up and running.
People interested in learning more about C.O.P. can look at acopa.ca. People willing to volunteer should contact Weetman at 587-516-0677.
Crime seems to be on everyone’s mind. Various levels of government are also tackling the problem. The Town and MD have been advocating for better rural policing, the provincial National Democratic Party (NDP) and the United Conservative Party (UCP) have been debating various ways to finance more police and fight rural crime.