INNISFAIL – The resurrected Innisfail chapter of Citizens On Patrol (C.O.P.) has secured office space and is within a few weeks of being a valued operational community crime busting force alongside the RCMP.
At town council’s regular meeting on Sept. 11, the local C.O.P. chapter’s new president, Izetta Sellors, was introduced to members of town council.
Innisfail’s new C.O.P. chapter, a process that began with a citizen query at a RCMP-sponsored town hall meeting nearly a year ago, is the first in more than nine years since the old one ceased operations on Aug. 31, 2014.
The mandated role of citizen members of the not-for-profit COP program is to act as additional “eyes and ears” for their community and the police, with an ultimate goal of reducing crime in the community.
Sellors, who was warmly received by council, told the town’s elected officials the community’s new C.O.P. is “hoping” to begin operations in late October with 10 active members, with another two citizens on the fence about joining.
“We're assisting the RCMP, as we are basically the eyes in the community to report anything that we see going on,” said Sellors, who answered several questions from interested members of council. “We basically go in there and we can pick different shifts. We always go out in pairs. We will never go out alone.
“And we'll be in communication with the RCMP on when we're going out and for how long.”
Sellors told council that all Innisfail C.O.P. members have taken an online training course that is mandated by the Alberta Citizens On Patrol Association (ACOPA), the governing body for C.O.P. chapters across the province.
“It basically goes over safety of the members, and what we are. We are not to try to be the police and involve ourselves or anything that get us into any danger,” said Sellors, adding on-duty C.O.P. members communicate with RCMP partners through a free ACOPA phone app given to members.
“We can download videos or take pictures and they get submitted right to the RCMP,” she added. “We also have WhatsApp that we're constantly text messaging with RCMP members that we do know.”
Council was also told the new local C.O.P. chapter will be fundraising to help pay for its ongoing expenses.
Sellors requested to council to approve office space at the Innisfail Twin Arena they could use for monthly meetings.
Council unanimously agreed to support the new Innisfail group by directing that a room at the Arena be given to them free of charge.
Innisfail RCMP Staff Sgt. Ian Ihme told the Albertan after Sellors’ presentation that while the Innisfail C.O.P. chapter had been formed and executive members elected necessary registration documents still need to be received from the provincial government and ACOPA.
“They're just waiting for those documents to come back and their not-for-profit status to be approved, which we anticipate will be very shortly,” said Ihme. “And then within the next few weeks they will hopefully be up and patrolling.”
As for funding support, Ihme said the National Police Federation, the union representing RCMP members, has donated $1,500 for seed money to help the new Innisfail C.O.P. chapter become operational.
For citizens interested in supporting or volunteering for the resurrected Innisfail chapter of Citizens On Patrol he or she can email [email protected]