The new Citizens On Patrol (COP) organization now has a board of directors, 29 confirmed members, and more on the way, according to COP president Vince Clarke.
COP is a group of local volunteers who agree to patrol the community to help the RCMP. They’re allowed to do so after they’ve been screened, had background checks done on them and have been trained by police.
At least one training session for the new group is planned later this month. If all goes well, Clarke is hopeful Olds COP members could be patrolling residential and commercial areas in the town before the new year; if not that soon, then early in the new year.
A previous COP group in Olds and area folded after several existing members stepped down for health and other reasons. There was a concern that not enough people could be found to take their place.
The new group held its latest meeting Nov. 28 at the fire hall, during which the executive was chosen. About 30 people attended the approximately two-hour gathering.
In addition to Clarke, other board members are vice-president Kyle Lamarsh, secretary Jamie Trudgeon, treasurer Rob Kreese. Directors at large are Brian Johnson, Emery Hagerty, Shane Matchullis, Phyllis Horpenuk and Gord Bueckert.
Coun. Heather Ryan is the Town of Olds liaison and Olds RCMP Cst. Kurtis Milbrandt is the RCMP liaison.
“It was a great turnout and we were able to elect our executive board in the same meeting, which was a great push in the right direction,” Clarke told the Albertan.
“From here, we get everybody trained and get everybody out in the streets as efficiently as we can,” Clarke says. “We’re hoping to get people out either just before the new year or just after.”
The group is scheduled to hold its next regular meeting Dec. 12 at the fire hall.
One training session for COP members is set for Dec. 9 in Linden from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Town community facility facilitator Jennifer Lutz says Olds RCMP staff will also offer training Dec. 13 from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. More training is expected to occur in January.
The plan is to ensure that fees won’t be a deterrent for anyone interested in joining the organization.
“Right now we’re looking at getting membership fees covered through financing and fundraising so it won’t be much of a cost for anybody who’s interested in joining,” Clarke says, adding board member Brian Johnson is in charge of fundraising.
“He’s extremely motivated; he’s a great dude,” Clarke says. “He’s looking to help any way in that department, so I think we’re in good hands as far as that goes.”
Clarke is pleased that nearly 30 people have signed up for COP so far, but he’s hopeful membership will get much larger, maybe even double.
“I think in my mind, a good number would be 60, even,” he says. “I mean, the more the merrier; anything more than that is great. But in my mind, I think 60 is a healthy number.”
Clarke notes the previous edition of COP died because there weren’t enough members and those who did belong to the organization were aging and simply couldn’t carry it on without help.
“From here, we get everybody trained and get everybody out in the streets as efficiently as we can.”VINCE CLARKEPRESIDENT OLDS CITIZENS ON PATROL