By Adam Jackson
You may have seen them before while walking your dog or taking a late-night stroll, but never realized who they were.
They are the men and women who patrol the streets on Ponoka as a part of the Ponoka Citizens on Patrol Society, or COPS.
“We’re looking for people to help out with our patrols,” said program leader Doug Gill.
“It’s a commitment of about four hours per month.”
“It puts the responsibility back on the citizens in terms of community safety. It lets them play a part instead of relying on the police forces.”
Gill says that although many people in the community are willing to make monetary donations to COPS, the most valuable thing that Ponoka residents can give is their time.
The group patrols high-crime areas in pairs late at night, including schools, high vandalism areas and the industrial area, where crime has been at its peak lately.
“Our job is to detect suspicious activity and alert police if we see anything,” said Gill. “Ideally, we would have police doing this work, but they just don’t have the manpower to do so.”
“This will help to put the unity back in community and help to empower the people of Ponoka to look out for each other.”
One of the best examples of how COPS has worked in Ponoka was two years ago when a member helped to stop a major break-and-enter perpetrator who had been burglarizing sheds and garages for more than six months prior.
“The RCMP said that we made a huge difference in tracking him down,” said Gill.
“It’s not only stuff like that, but sometimes you see people rolling through stop signs, obviously impaired and we make sure that police are notified.”
Gill also says that because the members of COP use their own vehicles, it is important to remain anonymous and not become a target.
If you would like to get involved or are looking for more information, you can contact Doug Gill at 403-783-3233.