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Two ways you can get involved with Vernon's Community Safety Unit

Vernon Speed Watch volunteers.
Image Credit: City of Vernon
October 06, 2016 - 6:30 PM

VERNON - If you’re looking for ways to promote safety in your community, the local crime prevention office has some suggestions.

Regan Borisenko, crime prevention coordinator with Vernon’s Community Safety Unit, says there are many ways to get involved and all of them make a positive difference.

For starters, you could join the block watch program.

“That’s done with a group of residents that want to get together,” Borisenko says.

Vernon currently has over 50 block watch groups in neighbourhoods across the city. Borisenko meets with each group and teaches participants how to identify crime, how to prevent it, and what to do if they encounter it.

“They become the eyes and ears for each other, and for the RCMP,” Borisenko says.

Those prepared for a bigger commitment to community safety might be interested in becoming an RCMP volunteer. Being accepted into the program involves a full interview process, enhanced RCMP security clearance check, training and a commitment of six hours per week.

Individuals are trained to help with mobile patrols, search and rescue operations, and evacuations, and also learn how to take proper notes about a crime that can be used in a court of law, Borisenko says.

The program is open to people aged 19 to 79, and the average age of volunteers is 50. There are 60 RCMP volunteers in Vernon.

One example of how the program deters crime was earlier this year when a pair of RCMP volunteers found a vehicle with stolen license plates.

“Lo and behold, before the police could get there, two people approached the vehicle and started driving away,” Borisenko says.

The RCMP volunteers followed the vehicle and kept in communication with RCMP dispatch. They were able to direct police to the suspect vehicle, where two people were ultimately arrested, Borisenko says.

The volunteers play a large role assisting police with a wide range of duties, including speed watches, distracted driving campaigns, and auto crime.

“We’re patrolling the way it used to be when police had time to patrol. We’re going through residential districts. We’re actively looking for people who are trying to get into cars,” Borisenko says. “It makes people feel safer when they see you. If you’re in areas that are more crime-ridden, the bad guys stay away.”

RCMP volunteers drive in marked vehicles and wear uniforms that identify who they are.

“Being an RCMP volunteer is a commitment to your city to make it a healthy, vibrant city that is safe,” Borisenko says.

More information can be found here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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