Innisfail group seeks volunteers

Citizens on Patrol groups in Innisfail and Red Deer are on the lookout for more volunteers.

Citizens on Patrol groups in Innisfail and Red Deer are on the lookout for more volunteers.

Bob Bartlett, chairman of Innisfail and District Citizens on Patrol Society, said there are about 18 volunteers and he would love to have another 20 to provide enough people for 15 two-person teams with a few extras.

The group went public earlier this month with a call for more volunteers and two have signed up so far.

The local RCMP detachment recently told the society they would like to see Citizens on Patrol out on weekdays to help with a spike in property crimes.

The volunteers patrol both Innisfail and Penhold.

Bartlett and his wife have been involved with Citizens on Patrol for about 12 years.

They joined after someone broke into their home and they saw the value of giving police more eyes in town.

Volunteers have proven their worth many times and have gone to court to provide evidence in numerous cases.

Bartlett said patrollers offer useful assistance to police officers, who are often on their own and may be dealing with multiple people.

In another case, patrollers showed up at a local recreation facility to help an officer who was having trouble with some rowdies.

The Citizens on Patrol car pulled up, flashed its headlights a few times, and the troublemakers, realizing the officer was no longer alone, quickly calmed down.

Other patrollers have caught thieves red-handed and called in the police.

Patrollers are trained in directing traffic, helping at checkstops and how to do a stakeout.

They also provided crowd control at Innisfail’s parade.

Teams typically patrol for up to four hours on Friday and Saturday nights, but the length of shifts is up to patrollers.

A commitment of four hours a month is expected.

Applicants must be 18, pass a criminal records check and undertake a training program.

“You never go out alone and you do not ever go out without training,” he said.

Red Deer’s Citizens on Patrol has about 20 volunteers but at least five or six more would be welcomed, said TerryLee Ropchan, executive director of the city’s Crime Prevention Centre.

A commitment of four hours a month or 12 hours a quarter is asked for but outside of that there’s lots of flexibility.

“The beauty of the program is it can be anything you want,” said Ropchan.

For instance, some volunteers prefer to cruise the city during daylight hours. Others like the more active Friday and Saturday night shifts.

Volunteers can walk, bike or drive around town using their own vehicles and are in contact with police by cellphone and radio. As each shift starts, volunteers call the RCMP watch commander to see if there are any particular areas police would like patrolled.

Anyone interested in joining the Innisfail Citizens on Patrol can call Bartlett at 403-227-8428 and ask for an application.

To apply in Red Deer, call the Crime Prevention Centre at 403-986-9904.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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