The Vermilion Citizens on Patrol (C.O.P) is in their 10th year and still patrolling the streets of Vermilion. On July 14 in conjunction with the Alberta Citizens on Patrol Association (ACOPA) a training session for area C.O.P groups was held at the School of Hope. Members from Vermilion, Lloydminster, Wainwright and Viking attended. The session also acted as an information session for anyone who wanted to learn about the organization.
Robert Gollan, a retired RCMP officer, instructed the course and passed along a lot of wisdom from his policing days and informed members of the role of C.O.P.
“Citizens on Patrol are the eyes, ears, and voice of the community. You are an extension of the RCMP and are meant to work in conjunction with them. You are not vigilantes,” said Gollan.
Elna Eidsvik started the Vermilion Citizens on Patrol back in 2008 because of increasing incidents of vandalism.
“Vandals were coming onto private property and destroying plants, and lawn ornaments; businesses were being defaced and damaged. I went to Town Council and told them I was prepared to do the legwork to get the group started,” said Eidsvik.
Throughout the session, Gollan spoke on several topics including the C.O.P. image.
“We need to change the image of C.O.P., you are not just a group of people out driving around, it has been proven that this service deters crime,” said Gollan.
The Vermilion Citizens on Patrol are always in need of more volunteers and would like to encourage anyone 18 years of age or older to contact them to find out the particulars of joining the group.
“You have to go through the official training offered by ACOPA, do ride alongs, and have a criminal record check done to join. Insurance is provided to group members through an ACOPA contracted insurance provider, so is not considered a personal requirement to joining.” said Eidsvik, who also explained, “We work closely with local RCMP Liaison Mike Rose and we find the local businesses to be very supportive. Our patrols happen 24/7 especially during busy times at night and at fair time. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep their eyes open in our community.”
C.O.P. is vigilant for the safety of its members and Eidsvik says that they never patrol alone and they do not get out of their vehicles and expose themselves to dangerous situations.
Citizens of Patrol President Elna Eidsvik recently received the Community Justice Award for 2018 from Alberta Justice & Solicitor General.
If you are interested in joining or would like further information for the Vermilion Citizens on Patrol please contact Elna Eidsvik at 780-853-6802 or the Vermilion RCMP.