KAMLOOPS – One part welcome wagon, one part sheriff.
The Customer Care and Patrol team, or CAP for short, was introduced formally to the public in Kamloops on Friday, June 5.
Armed with big smiles and bright red shirts, the young people act as what bylaw officer John Wilson calls the “eyes and ears of the downtown.”
While their mission is to keep Kamloops’ downtown core clean, safe and friendly, team captain Timothy Crowe likes his analogy better.
“Really there are two branches; we’re tourism ambassadors as well as safety patrollers. Kind of like how everyone has a left and a right hand, but we’re very ambidextrous,” he says.
The CAP team work with Rocky Mountaineer conducting heritage walks downtown every Tuesday and Thursday. Whether on foot or at their Victoria Avenue kiosk, the team is there direct tourists.
Jackie Rechenmacher, a two year veteran of the team, says part of her job is working with street people.
“If they need a cold bottle of water, if they need first aid, or if they’re having some troubles… we definitely help them out,” she says.
The team has assisted in arrests and picked up needles as part of their safety mandate.
Two summers ago, Crowe describes a woman who dropped a milkshake in front of their tourism kiosk. She seemed very out of it, he says, because she just stared lethargically at the shake on the ground. The team members got her a chair and sat her down, but soon realized that something was very wrong. Crowe learned later the woman, who was wearing a hospital bracelet, had overdosed on methadone.
“If we hadn’t been there to call 911, she probably wouldn’t have made it,” he says.
While some members of the team wish to pursue careers in law enforcement, Rechenmacher joined CAP because of her interest in tourism. A recent grad of tourism management, she called this job “an amazing opportunity to get into the heart of the city and explore it.”
Crowe graduated from Thompson Rivers with a degree in biology and while he is looking for a job in this field, he finds the CAP team to be the experience of a lifetime.
“The training benefits from the job are phenomenal,” he says. Crowe and his team learn first-aid, self defense training and get to interact with RCMP and bylaw officers.
But he believes it’s the soft skills, like communication and networking, which are transferable to any job.
And hanging out with fat cats at city hall isn’t bad either, Crowe says.
“What other jobs do you get to shake hands with the mayor at least twice a year?”
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