On any given night in Williams Lake it’s common for youth volunteers to be out with the community policing’s Citizens on Patrol.
“We’re meant to be the eyes and ears,” said retired RCMP Sgt. Bob McIntosh who heads up the youth program. “We connect with RCMP vehicles on the road.”
To prove the point he points to a police radio on the table at the office.
“We have it on in case the RCMP need our assistance,” McIntosh explains.
Dyllan Wall and Jerrissa Charleyboy are the volunteers working with McIntosh on a drizzly evening last Friday.
Wall joined COP last year when he was a Grade 12 student. These days Wall works full-time as a lifeguard, is studying philosophy and sociology at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake, and is a volunteer firefighter with the 150 Mile Fire Dept.
Despite his busy schedule, he values his time with COP.
“It’s really helped me a lot being involved with community policing,” Wall says. “It’s made my brain sharper. On any given night I see a whole bunch of things and I have to remember them at the end of the day.”
Smiling, McIntosh says Wall keeps very good notes.
“You never know when you might have to use them in court,” Wall adds.
Charleyboy is in Grade 12 at Lake City Secondary’s Williams Lake campus taking the last two courses she needs to graduate.
She moved to Williams Lake from Calgary two years ago and has been out on a few COP patrols so far.
“When I first started I didn’t know what it would be like,” she says. “It’s fun and it’s something different to do.”
Charleyboy wants to be a lawyer, she says.
The shift starts with the team filling out a sheet for the RCMP.
It notes who is on patrol, what their cell phone numbers are, what kind of vehicle they are using, and the time they start the shift.
Once it’s completed, Wall faxes it to the local RCMP detachment.
For the first two and a half hours of the shift, the team checks some of the areas in the city of concern.
On foot and armed with flashlights, they walk around treed areas near the hospital, through back alleys, parking lots, the recreation complex and through Boitanio Mall.
They are looking for people who might be in trouble, or those causing trouble through vandalism and new graffiti.
One of their main tasks is going through parking lots.
They look at vehicles and check for visible valuables, unlocked doors, and expired license plate decals.
ICBC has issued some Crime Prevention Notice tickets that the group uses.
The friendly reminder notes keys left in vehicle, and vehicle equipped with alarm, to possessions and cash in view.
“One day we came across a vehicle with all the windows down, credit cards in view and a laptop,” McIntosh says.
In the Boitanio Mall parking lot during Black Friday, the team comes across a license plate with a March 2013 expiry date so Wall and Charleyboy fill out a ticket.
McIntosh notices a purse in full view inside another vehicle and encourages them to fill out another ticket for that one.
At the Save-on Foods lot they see a vacuum and bottle of wine inside a truck.
A man is wringing out his wet winter jacket outside the grocery store so McIntosh wanders over to chat.
Afterwards he says he likes to make sure people are doing OK.
The first part of the shift ends at Tim Hortons where McIntosh says the program needs more volunteers. Youth have to be ages 16 to 19.
“Volunteers need to commit to one patrol a month and attend a monthly meeting,” he explains.
Winter time is generally less active, but summer can be pretty busy, he adds.
“Sometimes we’ll be out until 2 or 3 a.m.”
The program could also use adult volunteers, McIntosh says.