British Columbia

British Columbia continues to be divided as to the operation of our program. In some RCMP detachments, they use “Community Policing Volunteers” and in others, COPs.

In some detachments, the Community Policing Volunteers generally do overt patrols driving a marked vehicle with Community Policing written on 3 sides. It is out there driving the streets during mostly daytime hours with the theory being to move people away from areas. The vehicle is also used by Speed Watch and Cell Phone patrols so it is limited in its use as a patrol vehicle. These volunteers do not check plates as a project, do not have a radio network ( only 1 patrol per night because the police don’t authorize use of personal vehicles – ie covert patrols), nor check any pass-on information from police.

We do have some areas using the COPs program although the exact nature of their patrolling is not known. Because we do not have a provincial body, there is no interaction between groups, there is little information to pass on to them except what I send out periodically. There is no connection and that is a huge part of being part of an organization.

With no provincial association, it remains difficult to have an accurate count of members in British Columbia. Part of the problem is that, rightfully so, each detachment commander sees the world differently and has a different view or has a different experience with COPs groups in the past. On the Island, we have two RCMP detachments within a half hour drive of each other operating differently - one has a strong leader with a cohesive COPs group and the other has no police leader and no COPs group.

Remember, the lack of a COPs group is not because the volunteers lack the expertise to do the ‘job’. There are former members in my location who are just retired and who have many personal and life skills that they bring forward and which would benefit the police in their work. That expertise is just not wanted at this point in time. Being a volunteer in any capacity is so worthwhile and an experience to enjoy. As you are reading this, continue to be aware of the COPs mandate and perhaps the program will regenerate itself in your neighbourhood and you will be ready.