by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville Citizens on Patrol is hosting an open house at Higher Grounds on Monday, Aug. 19 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and are inviting anyone 18 and older to attend.
The watchdog organization is hoping to show Morinville residents how they can help be eyes and ears for law enforcement in as little time as a couple of hours per month.
The organization has been operating in Morinville since 1997. Over the past 21 years, the volunteer group has been doing their part for community policing in Morinville. But they are limited in just what they can do to help the police because they are limited in the number of volunteers they have at their disposal.
COP Morinville President Elisabeth Melvin said the group currently has fewer than ten volunteers, which means they are only doing about 10-15 hours of patrolling per month.
“We want to get more people involved so that there is power in numbers on the street,” Melvin said. “It is non-confrontational. It’s not about going out with a vendetta that I’m going to get the bad guy. It’s another side of preventative. We want to make Morinville uncomfortable for criminals.”
Judith Clarke has been with the organization locally for the past 15 years and believes the organization can help reduce crime if sufficient patrols are happening.
As with many organizations, one of the challenges in getting more volunteer members is the belief that people have to commit a lot of time. The Aug. 19 event is hoping to dispell that notion.
Members are required to do patrols, but they can do patrols when they are available and wish to do them. The requirement is to do one patrol a month, which can be for as little as one hour.
Volunteers use their vehicle, are paid mileage, and travel two to a vehicle on typically 90-minute to two-hour patrols.
Volunteers never get out of the vehicle – they’re just the eyes and ears of the RCMP.
Those looking for more information on Citizens on Patrol can visit their website at http://www.morinvillecop.org or attend Monday’s information night at Higher Grounds from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.