Crime prevention program needs more volunteers
Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 06:00 am
An organization devoted to keeping an eye out for suspicious activity in two Foothills towns hopes to up the ante for 2018.
The Diamond Valley Citizens on Patrol Society is looking for more volunteers as it works to reduce crime in Black Diamond and Turner Valley. There are currently 14 volunteers, and society president Yvonne Machan said she would like to see that number increase to 20 this year.
“We are trying to get as many as we can so the more we have the less each member has to patrol,” she said. “The more we are out there the more we see and the more crime we stop. The RCMP can’t be everywhere all the time.”
Machan revived the program last year. She was involved with it in the 1990s and early 2000s before it folded due to a lack of interest. Her decision to get it going again was prompted by complaints on social media about vehicle thefts in 2016.
When Diamond Valley Citizens on Patrol became a society last spring, about 10 volunteers hit the road. Machan’s dream is to see 50 volunteers in each community.
“What we’re hoping to be able to do is maybe get enough volunteers to do a split shift,” she said. “One car works from 11 p.m. to 2 p.m. and another picks up from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. That’s our goal.”
Machan said the volunteers select their own shifts.
“They get to pick their own hours and how long they want to be out,” she said. “Whenever they can get out is okay. We have a lot of couples that patrol together.”
Gary and Ruth Reid joined the program over concerns about crime in the area.
“It’s gotten bad out here,” Gary said. “Somebody broke into a 102-year-old woman’s house. Something needs to be done.”
The Reids said being part of the program gives them the opportunity to make a difference in their community.
Gary said he would like to see more people step up so that each pair of volunteers has a specific day to take the strain off others.
“The police can’t do it all,” he said. “If we had more people we could certainly do it all.”
Ruth said something needs to be done to address the problem with theft and she is glad to do her part.
The couple reported to the RCMP a number of garage doors that were left open in the middle of the night to help prevent theft.
“You don’t know if somebody has broken in or if people are unaware they are open,” she said. “We saw two garage doors open the last time we went out.”
Ruth said volunteering for Citizens on Patrol is about making a difference in the community.
“We’ve got the time to do it so why not,” she said. “We are enjoying it.”
Machan said patrols mostly take place on weekends.
Before volunteers hit the pavement, they must fill out an applicant form and have a police record check completed, said Machan.
“Myself or somebody that’s been here from the start will take them out on a couple of patrols as both a passenger and driver,” she said. “After a couple of shifts they go out with a partner. It’s pretty easy. Basically you just drive around in the night and see what’s out there and report it.”
The volunteers learn how to fill out reports and, when it’s time to hit the pavement, they always work in pairs, said Machan.
“It’s a much-needed program,” she said. “There is always something going on here, whether it’s someone rummaging through cars. We just want to get as much crime off the streets here as we can.”
Machan enjoys patrolling the towns and helping out her fellow citizens.
“I’m a night owl so I’m up all the time,” she said. “I love driving around. You see a lot of wildlife. You see more deer than you do people sometimes. We have a contest going to see who sees the most deer.”
Part of Machan’s patrols includes driving through alleys.
“You never know what’s going on back there,” she said. “We have fun when we’re on patrol. Some of us bring snacks and just chat and get to know each other. You get to make new friends if you’re not going out with your husband or partner.”
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, have a police record check completed and have a valid driver’s licence. The program offers free police record checks.
For more information or to sign up contact Yvonne Machan at 403-933-5818, 403-988-5537 or firstname.lastname@example.org or inquire on the society’s Facebook page.