By Ry Clarke
Southern Alberta Newspaper
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Town of Coaldale is looking for volunteers to help establish a Local Citizens on Patrol Group. Working in conjunction with local RCMP, volunteers will help keep watch over the streets and neighbourhoods of Coaldale helping towards safety and community aid.
In the town’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, council identified public safety as a key priority and is looking to focus on ensuring a strong collaboration between the Town’s Community Peace Officer Program and the RCMP. While empowering residents to play a contribution to help with local law enforcement. “One of our goals is to implement the Citizens on Patrol. It came to us via our local RCMP detachment, with Staff Sergeant Mike Numan (Commander of the Picture Butte/Coaldale Detachment). It is something that he has worked with previously and thought it would be a good fit for Coaldale,” said Jack Van Rijn, Mayor of Coaldale.
Through a crime severity index, Coaldale’s rate remains comparatively low. Town council hopes with the help of a Citizens on Patrol Group, they can maintain that index without spending extra money on policing costs. With Coaldale’s CSI score ranking 44.5, 65.5 lower than the national average of 100. “It compares Coaldale to seven other municipalities in southern Alberta with similar populations,” said Van Rijn “We’ve been trying to think of cost-effective ways to enhance public safety. We think setting up a Coaldale-based Citizens on Patrol group is one of those ways and will further our efforts as a Council to put Coaldale on the map as a safe place to live and raise a family.”
Volunteers will work with local RCMP to help patrol the city and maintain a vigilant eye. “As a volunteer group, they would be trained by Citizens on Patrol, taking a course, and have to be a minimum of 18 years old with a criminal background check,” said Van Rijn. “We can have volunteers working during the evening hours, late or early morning, and weekend patrols. What it looks like is two people are on the clock at one time checking in with local RCMP letting them know they are on patrol. They would patrol and look for suspicious activity and make a notation of what is going on and report information to the RCMP. Volunteers are not allowed to get out of their vehicle and they are only there to observe as a second set of eyes and ears to what is going on in the community.”
Hoping for public interest in the program, those looking to join can email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Town office at 403-345-1374. “We need to register with the Provincial Citizens on Patrol organization, and we want to make sure that there is public interest in Coaldale,” said Van Rijn. “What we are looking for now is a volunteer pool of hopefully a minimum of 20 people. From that, we can set up a board.”
Hoping to get citizens involved with public safety and helping towards to maintaining a sense of security, the program will add an extra level of assurance for the town of Coaldale. “We like to call ourselves a safe community, but this is just another tool in the toolbox to get messaging out,” said Van Rijn. “We are out here looking and paying attention and watching what is going on.”