By Wendy Elliott
Bernie Kleinpaste likes giving back to his area, so he volunteers with the Kings Citizen’s Patrol (KCP).
“The police do not have enough bodies around, so this way, I can help out. The cost of crime affects all of us,” he said.
John Skaling decided to volunteer after his car was spray-painted while he was attending a meeting about vandalism.
“I would be extra eyes and ears for the RCMP as they cannot be everywhere.”
After many years on patrol, Wayne Blenkhorn still finds the experience rewarding.
“Bringing satisfaction in knowing that the work that we do is appreciated by the detachment and in turn helps out communities.”
Reid Boutilier believes that going on patrols makes Kings County a safer environment to live in, while Melvin Hart adds that as a patroller, he learns new and useful skills. Hart, who is the coordinator for the county-wide group, is trying to recruit new members to add to the 13 active volunteers there are on the road now.
“We’re not doing enough patrols,” he says. “I’d like a dozen newcomers or even two dozen.”
During one month this fall, patrol members were out 11 times. In pairs, they clocked over 900 kilometers while making almost 400 property checks.
“We’re not replacing the police,” said Hart. “We add extra value.”
He points to one patrol he took part in recently to check on a home where the owners were away for the winter.
“We found a ladder up against the house. They could have come back in May and what would the homeowner find? Good heavens,” he said.
One member said it was good to do something ‘silently’ that made him feel good inside without the whole world knowing what he contributed. He likes being behind the scenes to lend support when needed.
COP members are fully trained in how to make safe patrols, Hart said. They can even pick up first aid and CPR training.
That’s why he says the skills he’s learned as a volunteer have been transferable to his work life.
Recently, the Kings COP created a training film on impaired driving that is in use all over the province.
The minimum contribution is one four-hour shift per month. The RCMP provide any necessary equipment, but COP members use their own vehicles.
While on patrol, COP members watch for suspicious activity and call it in to the detachment. They might, for example, call in illegal activity by a driver and then maintain visual contact until a cruiser can arrive to take over.
Police officers in Kings County, Hart says, are really busy, so if COP members know the signs of impaired drivers, for example, they can alert duty officers.
For more information on the program, contact any RCMP detachment in the county.