Smithers Citizens on Patrol (COP) honoured its volunteers with a luncheon last week at Daddio’s Family Restaurant.
“I really appreciate you all coming out week after week, night after night,” said Matt Davey, the Town’s community policing officer. “I know it’s not always easy, especially in the cold winter weather, but you guys are still showing up and doing it and we really appreciate your efforts.”
Davey said the Smithers community is very much engaged.
“When I go out of town to larger centres and talk to other community police officers and tell them that our volunteer base is 25 people if we include Crime Stoppers and Speed Watch, their minds are blown,” he said. “In this day and age it’s really hard to come by volunteers. We live a much busier life and I really do appreciate the fact that you guys take time out of your day.”
Nevertheless, he said, they can always use more volunteers.
This week is Crime Prevention Week (Nov. 4 -10) and Smithers COP is using the opportunity to try to increase its ranks.
Sgt. Darren Durnin of the Smithers RCMP detachment, who worked in community policing before becoming a Mountie, also attended the lunch and asked the volunteers to reach out to others in the community to step up.
“I know it can be easy to maybe not necessarily feel appreciated, but now that I’m a policeman and I’ve done both roles, community policing and engagement from the community directly involved and indirectly with us makes a difference in our communities that we serve,” he said.
“Part of your role is to try to keep the recruitment going and get people engaged because the police can’t do it on our own, we do need the community to be involved.”
Bruce Bobick, a COP volunteer who, with his wife Marg have been involved for 25 years, said they have gotten a lot of satisfaction out of the experience.
“You feel like you’re doing something good for the community,” he said. Vandalism or theft is always a problem so if you can curb even one of those… occasionally you run into other things, so if someone is overdosed, or as we found once, one person had fallen on the sidewalk and we managed to call the ambulance right away. It’s just backing up the police department.”
He added over the years they have alerted police to a variety of crimes including impaired driving and stolen vehicles.
“The gist of it is we tour the town, churches, schools and that sort of thing, and we cover the whole town, and when there’s time we’ll run out to Telkwa even,” he said. “Basically, it’s touring town and looking for anything that shouldn’t be there.”
Prospective volunteers can work as little or as much as they want on their own schedule. Shifts are two hours long.
Crime Stoppers and Speed Watch are also looking for new members. Bobick said they received 18 tips on the Dease Lake and Laird murders alone and frequently pass along tips related to drug activity, phone scams and other offences.
Interested parties can contact Matt Davey at the Community Policing Office (250 847 6197).