Future of Citizens on Patrol in question

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Town staff keeping it alive while they consult with stakeholders

Citizens on Patrol (COP) in this community is in a kind of limbo, according to Olds chief operating officer Doug Wagstaff.

During a meeting of the Olds and District Community Policing Advisory Committee (ODCPAC), Wagstaff said several members of the current executive are stepping down for health reasons.

At the same time, there is a lack of new members willing to join the executive, so the organization is in suspended animation while the town undertakes a study to see if it’s needed – and if so, how it needs to be reorganized to remain in operation and hopefully grow.

“Citizens on Patrol is now temporarily inactive. They kept their society active and at their last regular meeting in January, they did not have enough people step forward to fill their executive,” Wagstaff told the committee. “Technically currently, I am now the president of the COP.”

Wagstaff said two town staff members have stepped forward to serve on COP “to – on paper, keep it alive.”

In addition, two existing members of the organization’s executive say they’ll remain in place until the group’s annual general meeting in September to help facilitate transition to a new COP, if it’s decided the organization should continue to operate in the community.

Wagstaff said between now and September, town staff members will undertake a review of COP in Olds and area to determine whether it’s viable, and if so, what – if any – changes need to be made to enable it to function better.

Wagstaff said plans call for the town to “engage all the stakeholders and all the COP people, the public, the businesses in town” to get their views about COP and its future.

“Some of the hard questions we’re asking the community at large are do they want a Citizens on Patrol? Straightforward. And if so, what are they able to do to have that service provided,” Wagstaff said.

“And then also, if that’s going to be a positive outcome, how is it set up over time?”

He said other questions to be asked include “what’s the value, what have been the strengths of that (organization), what are the challenges to that operation?”

“One of the key questions that we’re going to be asking as we go through that to the businesses themselves, employees, or just general citizens – is what can they do,” Wagstaff said.

ODCPAC chair Joan O’Reilly liked the idea of canvassing the business community regarding the future of COP.

“I remember 14 years ago when I was an active member of that, it blew my mind that there wasn’t representation from the businesses,” she said. “We were out there in the middle of the night, patrolling around for their benefit and yet they weren’t wanting to be part of it.”

Wagstaff praised the COP executive.

“They did a lot of work to ensure that at least the framework of the organization is still intact so that it can be – hopefully in their mind – resurrected,” he said.

dcollie@olds.greatwest.ca

“Some of the hard questions we’re asking the community at large are do they want a Citizens on Patrol? Straightforward. And if so, what are they able to do to have that service provided?” DOUG WAGSTAFFCHIEF OPERATING OFFICER TOWN OF OLDS

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Doug Collie

Doug Collie joined the Olds Albertan in 2014 as editor. He covers municipal politics, news, community events, arts and entertainment and sports happening in and around Bowden and Olds.