October 29, 2013 - 8:29 AM
KAMLOOPS – The police aren't the only ones paying attention to what's happening in the neighbourhood.
You can also turn to one of the neighbourhood watch groups to help keep an eye on things.
There are a couple different programs in Kamloops that act as additional eyes and ears for the RCMP. Citizens on Patrol is the highest level volunteer-based program with about 20 volunteers, each with special RCMP clearance. The volunteers go out in groups of two and patrol areas across the city the RCMP have designated as a priority on weekend nights and occasionally during the week.
Community Safety and Enforcement Manager Jon Wilson says the Citizens on Patrol program has a 'pretty steady' number of volunteers and hopes the neighbourhood watch groups forming in Brocklehurst and Westsyde will also see the same kind of steadiness.
“The challenge is keeping people's interest in the program,” Wilson says, pointing to the North Shore Citizen Safety Patrol, which was strong for a number of years but disbanded a couple years ago as interest in volunteering for the patrol waned.
The other challenge is ensuring these watch groups are working with other neighbourhood groups and to know what to expect in the way of support from the RCMP and the city.
“It's good what they're doing, but we want to to make sure they have an understanding of expectations,” Wilson says. They need to understand how to share information in a timely manner and understand city and RCMP response times as well.”
Wilson hopes to see consistency between programs and as a result community enforcement and RCMP representatives have already met with the Brock Neighbourhood Watch group. Wilson hopes a similar meeting can be had with the Westsyde Neighbourhood Watch group in the near future.
The Brock group started in August and quickly grew to nearly 300 members on its Facebook page within the week. Today it has more than 440 members. In September Tyler Donovan decided Westsyde also needed a group. While the organization page has earned more than 100 likes the group only has three regular volunteers, though others have expressed interest and local businesses are supporting the group as well.
Both groups say the goal is to bring the community together to help keep an eye on the neighbourhood.
“We hope more people from Westsyde will volunteer, or at the very least help to keep somewhat of an eye on their neighbourhoods, be diligent in who is around and who maybe seems out of place. Watch for taggers and above all else report issues when necessary,” Donovan says of his goal for the Westsyde group.
Wilson is happy to see community spirit rallied in these neighbourhoods and hopes that in working with the groups they can ensure everyone's safety while making the community a better place.
Wilson adds that while it's hard to say the exact impact any of these groups has there is evidence that having high visibility groups, such as Citizens on Patrol, in the area does help prevent crimes.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013