Citizens help patrol streets

Bad guys beware. Red Deer City RCMP have a new weapon in the fight against crime. Red Deer City Citizens on Patrol were out and about for the first time this past weekend.

Facilities like the Lancaster Green Activity Centre are just some of the areas that Troy Ropchan — president of the local Red Deer Citizens on Patrol organization — checks for signs of unusual after hours activity.

Bad guys beware. Red Deer City RCMP have a new weapon in the fight against crime.

Red Deer City Citizens on Patrol were out and about for the first time this past weekend.

Red Deer City Citizens on Patrol — made up of local residents from their 20s into their 60s — won’t be apprehending bad guys or doing high-risk takedowns, instead the members drive around in their vehicles acting as extra eyes and ears for the Red Deer City RCMP.

Ropchan received the OK from the operations commander on Friday to start patrols and headed out for four hours on Saturday night.

“It went good,” said Ropchan, who logged a few items during his volunteer shift on Saturday. He wasn’t able to talk about what he’d seen.

There aren’t designated areas or times for Citizens on Patrol volunteers. It’s up to them when and where they go.

When volunteers start their shift they check in with the RCMP to see if there are any “hot spots” that night. Volunteers are equipped with flashlights, safety vests, police scanners and cellphones. There is a log book where they can write down minor offences or things of interest.

The more than 20 volunteers will be on the lookout for stolen cars, impaired drivers, acts of vandalism and break ins during the four or more hours a month they drive around.

If they see anything major, they call the Red Deer City RCMP to deal with the situation. Volunteers aren’t allowed to leave their vehicles and must stick to the city limits. The group can also be called into action if the RCMP needs help finding a missing child.

“It’s like any other crime prevention program out there, such as Neighbourhood Watch and the Guardian Angels. It’s all part of the puzzle to make your city better and make sure it’s safe,” Ropchan said.

Organizers first met in February to start Red Deer City Citizens on Patrol. Police did criminal record checks on them and offered five weeks of training.

Citizens on Patrol volunteers have no identifying marks on their vehicles, but Ropchan said in the future they hope to have Citizens on Patrol vests.

The group is always looking for more volunteers. Those 18 and up who are interested can drop by the Red Deer City RCMP station for an application form.

Red Deer City Citizens on Patrol will meet on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Red Deer City RCMP detachment, at 4811 49 St., for their annual general meeting.

Ropchan said members of the public are welcome to attend if they are interested in the group or would like to volunteer for it.

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