COP program launching in Cold Lake

Cold Lake chapter of Citizen on Patrol in the works following open house meeting

It was a full house on Tuesday evening for the Citizens on Patrol (COP) presentation held in partnership between the City of Cold Lake and the RCMP. Fueled by a request from the community the City and the RCMP had looked into how to bring a COP program to Cold Lake and presented information to the large crowd. Mayor for the City of Cold Lake, Craig Copeland says the crowd was an indicator to him that the program is not only needed, but greatly wanted by the residents.

“Overwhelming. The amount of people showing up was fantastic. It’s great to see all the citizens out here to get the information and make the decision if they’re going to be involved in the Cold Lake chapter,” Mayor Copeland explains the City’s role in the event was to bring information to the public on how to start and run a COP program. To operate the program a chapter in Cold Lake is formed with volunteers from the community acting in the organization and patrolling the city. “Council is really supportive of a program like COP. It’s great having this 101 (COPS session). We’re really supportive of a program like this in the Cold Lake area; whether it’s inside the city or outside. Having people volunteering to be eyeballs out there, to keep an eye on our community, is tremendous and it’s all about volunteers. That’s what builds a community.”

Residents in attendance heard from Bev Salomons, President of the Alberta COP Association and her husband Henry. The pair presented information on the Strathcona County Citizens on Patrol, how it is operated and its effectiveness; as well as how to start a program in Cold Lake.

Local resident, Frank Butt, spearheading bringing COP to the Cold Lake area, he explains his reason for initiating the efforts was to help the community, “the crime rate is, seemingly, increasing.” Butt is hoping the presentation will bring awareness of the program, “hopefully, we get rid of some of the vehicle break-ins, thefts, the petty crimes.” Butt explains the need for a COP program sprung from a Facebook page, Cold Lake Neighbourhood Watch, “that was people trying to bring awareness to their own community. Let people know this truck got stolen, somebody’s been out snooping in Ardmore…. It was more so a communication thing, to let people know what’s happening in their neighbourhoods. Then we realized, there’s programs out there that would do this, more of a feet on the ground.”Butt explains that once COP is going there will be a separate page for COP and it won’t be linked to the Cold Lake Neighbourhood Watch page.

“Tonight’s attendance demonstrated, whether you’re a MD resident or a city resident, people are concerned enough to get involved,” there were a lot of people just looking for more information on the program, as well, says the mayor. “There’s lots of support for COPS.”

Butt echoes the Mayor’s sediments in regards to the turnout, “it just shows there’s a need and we’re heading  in the right direction.”

A society must be established and incorporated in Cold Lake to move forward. From there, people are free to join by approaching the society or liaison officer. The Cold Lake RCMP Detachment has already agreed to designate one officer as the liaison officer for the program. Volunteers will require a criminal record check and basic training is provided by the society and liaison officer. Once COP is established in Cold Lake, it will be advertised and more information on how to volunteer and get involved will be given to the public.

LCN will keep you posted as this develops.