Around 20 residents are dedicated in volunteering their time to the Chestermere Citizens on Patrol Society (CCOPS) which is focused on being the eyes and ears for RCMP as a way to reduce crime in the community.
“This is strictly a passive role and we do not involve ourselves in any incidents,” said Director of the CCOPS Scott Taylor.
“We look, we listen, we record, and we report,” he said.
As Chestermere grows, so does the crime rate, having CCOPS actively watching over the community protects everyone.
CCOPS ensures Chestermere residents are safe by observing suspicious vehicles, people, activities, and providing proactive solutions that remove the opportunity for someone to commit a crime, Taylor said.
Along with patrolling neighbourhoods, the CCOPS work in partnership with the Chestermere RCMP to identify any unlocked vehicles through the lock it or lose it program.
Volunteers will check to see if vehicles are insecure, and if there are any valuables inside.
If so, CCOPS will record the information of the vehicle, notify the owner, and contact Chestermere RCMP.
“We are looking at more ways we can help our city and the citizens,” Taylor said.
“It’s a great deterrent for crimes of opportunity, such as breaking into vehicles, stealing vehicles or stealing license plates,” said Chestermere RCMP Liaison Cst. Troy Lewis.
He added, “It’s like a neighbourhood watch but they are in vehicles. It’s not just looking out for your neighbours, it’s looking out for the whole community.”
If volunteers witness any suspicious activities within the community, they will directly contact Chestermere RCMP allowing for a quicker response time, Lewis said.
CCOPS volunteers have a direct radio for RCMP rather than having a five to 10-minute delay when calling 911.
Since, CCOPS first began in 2010 volunteers of the program have identified suspicious and criminal activities occurring in the community, which is helping RCMP reduce crime.
“This program is eyes and ears for us. It does help us out regarding helping us reduce crime,” Lewis said.
“We try to stay on the outside looking in and have members of the RCMP deal with the situation,” Taylor said.
He added, “I, and many others within CCOPS take the position that although we may not actually catch a crime in progress, when we’re out on patrol throughout Chestermere, those wanting to commit crimes may have second thoughts as they never know when we’ll suddenly be there observing their actions.”
Taylor moved to Chestermere because he wanted a relaxed community where he could socialize with his neighbours.
However, shortly after moving to the city he began to notice an influx of posts on social media about suspicious things happening in the community.
“Volunteering with the CCOPS was my way of becoming part of a solution, and not a social media keyboard complainer. I go by the adage that if you don’t have a solution, don’t complain about the situation,” Taylor said.
Although CCOPS is well-received by Chestermere RCMP, many residents don’t know the program exists.
“Most citizens in Chestermere don’t know that CCOPS exists or that we’re patrolling their neighbourhoods at all hours of the night,” Taylor said.
Taylor added, he has been waved down by residents while patrolling who are wondering why he is in the area.
“When I’ve identified myself with CCOPS picture identification, and explained what our volunteers do, I’ve always received positive replies and a thanks from those we encounter,” he said.
CCOPS is always open for new members who want to join in keeping the community safe, Taylor said.
For more information on requirements and how to volunteer, please visit the website at http://www.ccop.ca, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the CCOPS booth at the Chestermere Volunteer Job Fair at Camp Chestermere on April 7.