British Columbia

When it comes to our volunteers, British Columbia remains divided as to the name. For many years, all volunteers with the police (excepting Vancouver City Police) were part of the Citizens On Patrol, our national organization. Over the years, some people decided that the name did not accurately reflect what the volunteers did and so they thought Crime Watch or similar wording would work better. However, they obviously did not fully understand the term Citizens On Patrol and its mandate.

Citizens On Patrol continues to cover a spectrum of tasks including vehicle patrols, bike patrols, cell watch, speed watch and others.

We do not have the luxury of a provincial body so keeping a tally of the existing COPs groups is more difficult. The ones which do exist follow our guidelines and have access to our programs, latest updates, and training manuals including videos.

Remember, the lack of a COPs group is not because the volunteers lack the expertise to do the tasks at hand. Part of the problem is that, rightfully so, each detachment commander sees the world differently and has different priorities with a corresponding different view or level of experience with COPs groups in the past. Two detachments within an hour’s drive of each other can operate differently, one with a strong COPs group led by the volunteers and the other with “RCMP Volunteers” (the alternative) with no group leadership.

Most COPs groups in BC are societies where the volunteers operate the group with an executive who is responsible to the RCMP Liaison Officer. This is the best arrangement as much of the mundane working (to a police officer) of a COPs group such as scheduling should not be a priority of a police officer.

Many of the members who I have been associated with are early retirees or have a few years of retirement and many have personal and life skills wanted by some detachment leaders while others do not. Being a volunteer in any capacity is so worthwhile and an experience not to be missed. As you are reading this, continue to be aware of the COPs mandate and perhaps the program will regenerate itself in your neighborhood. We do have some new groups in northern BC so contact me anytime and let’s talk.