Citizens on Patrol Program is an organization supported by Manitoba Public Insurance which involves local residents volunteering their time to help keep their community safe. Today, there are 56 groups registered with the Manitoba COPP and organizers in the St. Clement area are currently in need of more volunteers.
COPP, which recently celebrated its 25th year, has been active all over Manitoba since 1991. The St. Clements COPP was established in south St. Clements in March 2004. Since then, the program has continued to expand in both distance and members.
“Volunteers are always needed and whatever time they can give is greatly appreciated,” said St. Clement COPP recruitment officer Olga Hazelwood. “Our group has about 15 members now.”
This program allows citizens to contribute to the well-being of their community by helping to reduce crime. COPPs also allows these volunteers to gain an understanding of crime-related issues, learn about crime prevention strategies and even have some fun by getting to know all of neighbours.
After clearing a criminal record search and taking part in a COPP training session, volunteers take on a range of responsibilities. Patrolling the community, identifying concerning behaviours and notifying local law enforcement when necessary are some of the duties of a COPP member. They must also assist in creating awareness and providing crime prevention information to local citizens.
In addition to patrolling their communities, COPP groups display speed-reader boards, patrol at school crossing zones, identify impaired drivers on the road as well as conduct seatbelt and cellphone use surveys in conjunction with the RCMP.
“MPI supplies us with equipment such as safety vests, signs for our cars, speed watch equipment and more,” added Hazelwood. “They also hold training sessions for our members. In return, we report back to them our patrol hours and stats on things like speed watch, cellphone and seal belt surveys.”
In a recent news release, Crown Services Minister Ron Schuler announced that over 1,000 Manitobans volunteered their time in 2015-16 and contributed about 14,000 patrol hours. Patrols have the convenience of choosing to circuit their area on either foot, bike or vehicle and can do so according to their unique schedule of availability.
“It’s a good feeling to have people in the area recognize us and say that they appreciate how they feel safer with our presence in the community,” added Hazelwood. “We would like to do more patrolling as we recently added East Selkirk to our territory, so that means quite a lot more area to cover.”
Manitobans interested in joining or learning more about COPPs can visit their website at www.citizensonpatrol.ca.