COP members Shari Bourgeois, Judith Clarke and Gloria Heemeryck provide volunteer door service and security at a recent cultural centre show. – Lucie Roy Photos
by Lucie Roy
Morinville News Correspondent
We all have a role to play in crime reduction in our communities, and one such organization is the Morinville Citizens on Patrol Association (MCOP), more commonly referred as COP.
The COP association has an involvement and partnership with the local RCMP to participate in community-based crime prevention, which enhances the community’s safety.
The Association originated when the Community Policing Advisory Committee (C.P.A.C.) expressed an interest in forming a partnership with the RCMP to address problems in the community with break and enters, vandalism, impaired drivers, and other offenders. Since 1994, the group has continually served the citizens.
MCOP held their Annual General Meeting Feb. 29 and the current new Executive members are President Charmaine Enns, Vice President Darren Chvojka, Treasurers Darrell Knapp and Geordie Cheeseman, Secretary Kimberley Wood, and Equipment Director Judith Clarke.
President Enns said safety is the Association’s priority. “We are the eyes and ears for RCMP and Bylaw. We report suspicious activities and do not get involved.”
Volunteers receive training and the equipment needed to watch safely for suspicious activity, persons or vehicles and to report what they see to the RCMP.
Enns said they currently have 16 members and are always recruiting for more. “We are a diverse, friendly group of caring citizens of all ages,” she said. We patrol Morinville, the west industrial area, and Cardiff. Interested Morinville, Cardiff, and Sturgeon County residents are welcome to apply.”
The Application brochure is available on their website, and they will also have a table at the upcoming Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce Trade Show April 22-23.
The application process involves delivering the completed application to the Morinville RCMP detachment or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. COP executive members will then interview the applicant. If the applicant passes pre-screening, they will be asked to provide a Police Information Check (PIC). Once cleared, the probationary member begins training with a manual of information, a quiz, and training patrols. At the three month period, Executive reviews the probationary member status.
There is no fee to join, but applicants must be 18 years of age to join and be of good moral character.
The requirement is a minimum of one patrol per month and one meeting per month. The person must be willing to commit a minimum of approximately six hours per month. They must patrol in pairs. Mileage is reimbursed. There is ongoing training and guest speakers. Only members and invited guests attend the meetings. For the protection of volunteers, the privacy of those who wish to remain anonymous is protected. The key times are between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., but actual patrol times are left to each volunteer. Volunteers have reported acts of vandalism, impaired or dangerous driving, public mischief and suspicious people or vehicles.
The Morinville Citizens on Patrol Association is a member of the Alberta Citizens on Patrol Association (A.C.O.P.A.) and attend General meetings and conferences.
In 2015, the COP members created a book of Condolences for the family of RCMP Constable Wynn and messages for a speedy recovery for RCMP Auxiliary Cst. Bond. The book was turned over to the RCMP to pass on to the St. Albert Detachment. Close to 30 submissions were received from Morinville and Sturgeon County residents.
In 2014, COP participated in the Show and Shine with then President Keith Norris and Kimberley Wood handing out anti-theft license plate screws as part of an anti-theft initiative under the Lock It or Lose It Campaign. COP and RCMP also went out at night looking for potential theft targets and checking to see if vehicles were locked or not and leaving a pamphlet inside about the risk if leaving their vehicles unlocked.
They have been at various Trade Shows in Morinville and also have provided Community programs such as Crime Prevention Awareness and Education, anti-theft programs, speed education session, and occasional bicycle and foot patrols.
COP has also participated in the RCMP’s Citizens Academy. The Academy was a 10-week course introducing participants to various aspects of policing and increase the communication between the RCMP and citizens of Morinville and Sturgeon County to have them understand what the RCMP does, why they do it and the way they do it.