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Didsbury Citizens on Patrol folds after 18 years

Group cites aging volunteer core and lack of new members as main reasons behind difficult but necessary decision
didsbury-news

DIDSBURY — After almost two decades of service to the community, the Didsbury Citizens on Patrol (COP) Society had disbanded, officials said last week.

Citing an aging volunteer core and a lack of new members coming onboard, treasurer Pat Harty says the decision to close down wasn’t easy but necessary.

“In the 20 years since it started, most of the members were the same members who started it and nobody got younger in 20 years,” said Harty. 

Formed in 2003 under the Alberta Citizens on Patrol Association, Didsbury COP saw volunteer members patrol town streets and report suspicious activities to the police.

“We were a volunteer group that would drive around and if we saw anything we would call the police or if we saw something suspicious we would record it and say when or where we saw it,” he said. 

Members were witnessing very few suspicious or criminal activities during patrols in recent years, he said.

“If we had been seeing things and able to contribute more, that would have been better. We would drive around for four hours on a Friday night and didn’t see anything. And I guess that was a good thing,” he said.

Dozens of local residents were members of Didsbury COP over the years, he said, noting there in the end were only about half a dozen members.

Didsbury mayor Rhonda Hunter says the demise of Didsbury COP is unfortunate and that she is “very sorry” to hear about it.

“They (members) have provided such a valuable service to our community,” said Hunter.

Although Didsbury COP has now folded, Harty says local residents and visitors are always encouraged to report suspicious activities to the local RCMP detachment or Crime Stoppers.

“Anybody who sees anything suspicious should contact the police,” he said.

The end of Didsbury COP is the end of an era, he said.

“It’s sad to see it go because there were people who were committed and even though we weren’t seeing results, they were still happy to be out there,” he said. 

“It’s not the results that mattered, but the fact that we are going out in case we could get results that mattered. It was all for the common good.”