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  • Patrolling citizens aim to keep streets safe

    kniathon melony & amy
    Volunteers Melony Frei, left, and Amy Worblewsky share a laugh during the Knitathon at Waiting Room Cafe on Saturday, April 1.

    lcop car

    If you are one of those watching social media and reading about a crime spike in Langdon, there is something you can do to help.
    The Langdon Citizens on Patrol (LCOP) is looking for help to keep an eye on private property as the hamlet goes through a theft spike over recent months.
    The LCOP, which started officially more than five years ago, is registered with the province of Alberta and is now up to 18 members, although they can use more bodies to help keep a watch on the streets of Langdon.
    “We are always looking for more volunteers to help with the program, even if they are for whatever reason unable to patrol,” said Aimee Szarka, who runs the LCOP.
    “We do need admin help too. There are other ways to get involved in the program. We do an audit once a year. That paperwork has to be done yearly, as well as treasurer and secretary duties, meeting minutes and that stuff.”
    The LCOP has increased by three times since the winter because crime has become a hot topic this spring and summer.
    The commitment for a volunteer is a couple of hours a month, although the time varies based on availability.
    “You can drive around, bike around or walk around,” Szarka said.
    “We noticed years ago that there drinking and driving issues. We made up a program called Safe Rides Home. We would drive people home from events where alcohol had been served. We started with Langdon Days a few years ago.”
    Recently councillor Rolly Ashdown joined the group as he will be becoming a private citizen when his term runs out on Oct. 16. He has elected not to run again.
    An issue arose this past month in which teenagers were ‘hanging out’ at the strip mall parking lot where the Buy Low and Tim Hortons. While the teens weren’t doing anything wrong, it created quite a stir across social media.
    Ashdown went and talked to the kids and felt they were not doing anything wrong but he understands there isn’t a general gathering place for teenagers to go in Langdon during the summer months when school is out.
    While the crime spike and kids hanging out is unrelated, the situation put some people on edge.
    “Usually places that are the size of Langdon are 100 years old. We are only 35 years old. All that stuff is coming,” Ashdown said. “There’s not much doubt that it’s coming but people have moved here before it has existed.
    “It’s nice because it’s a nice place but it will take time before it’s fully developed out. One of the misconceptions is the government planned an entire town and then it filled up. People believe somebody had the money to put the recreation in place before that happened. That’s never the case. You need the people in place before that happens.”
    There is a good chance that if you have lived in Langdon for any length of time you have seen the LCOP roaming about. They can be in vehicles marked with a logo representing the group.
    But chances are you might not have noticed neighbours keeping a watch out for anything criminal going on.
    “When you are out, and it’s up the volunteers if they want to drive their own vehicle or do a ride along, you can choose to have the marker or not,” Szarka said. “Sometimes you can see them as a COP patroller and sometimes you can’t. It’s for someone’s preference. When we started we had some backlash. Not everyone likes people watching.”
    The group’s mandate is to observe and report and not interfere unless they see someone in danger. There is a strict mandate to follow as they aren’t looking for anyone out for vigilante justice.
    “We are trying to prevent that because people become angry when they are victims,” Szarka said. “We do have police here but they are limited in what they can do. They can’t sit in front of everyone’s house every day and make sure nothing happens.
    “If you see something that looks suspicious, you can call the detachment. If you see something serious, then you would call 911.”