Above: Acting President Viviane Pezer and Treasurer Bob Chapman pose with the Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch sign at the Morinville Fish and Game Association on Apr. 12. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
by Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch, established in 1983, is an all-volunteer, community-based service organization that works in partnership with the Morinville RCMP. Their focus is helping to create a safer rural community by being additional ears and ears for police.
Viviane Pezer is the organization’s Acting President, having taken over when SRCW’s President stepped down.
“I was approached and asked if I would take it on,” Pezer said. “I firmly believe in Rural Crime Watch because of the incidents in the area. We need the help, and it’s a great way to [meet people]. I met a lot of people through crime watch. Community involvement is important.”
Like all community organizations, volunteers are the backbone of SRCW.
Treasurer Bob Chapman has been part of the organization for 12 years.
“We had a break-in initially, and we looked into Crime Watch, and we attended meetings,” he said, adding members persuaded him to be the organization’s Treasurer. “I’ve been treasurer ever since, and we’re desperately looking for a new treasurer.”
Chapman explained the organization, which covers a large part of the Western side of Sturgeon County, has a large membership base. Monthly Board Meetings are open to the public, and Sturgeon County Councillors are often in attendance.
But where the organization is having issues, like so many other volunteer groups, is members to serve on the executive.
“We’re really searching for people,” Pezer said, adding that the organization is thankful for all the dedicated members who have stepped in to fill roles. “We need someone in President. We need someone in Treasurer. We need a secretary. The positions are all filled for the moment, but we are asking people to come forward.”
Additionally, the organization is currently looking for Zone Directors who oversee smaller areas of the overall SRCW area.
“A lot of our Executive are retirees, and they’re leaving,” Chapman said, noting health issues and moving among the causes for vacancies.
COVID-19 has affected SRCW and their ability to hold in-person meetings and having a public presence that draws new members and new blood to the organization.
“We were not able to do anything that we usually do,” Pezer said. “We’d go to parades. We’d go to Sturgeon County’s Open House. We’d go to all the open houses in the communities. This year we haven’t been able to.”
Despite the challenges, Pezer said the group is still active in looking for members and welcoming them to the organization to help the RCMP, Sheriffs, and Peace Officers do their jobs.
Members pay a small one-time membership fee, which entitles them to signage and access to the organization’s monthly meetings.