Community policing in Williams Lake is alive and well, with programs that are racking up thousands of volunteer hours and catching provincial attention.
From restorative justice, to citizens patrolling by horseback, or working with victims and offenders of spousal abuse, the program’s volunteers are knowledgeable of the community, said chair Andy Sullivan at Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting.
Citizens on Patrol has been actively patrolling schools, parks and the community at large.
Volunteers have an Ipad they use to check licence plates in a national database to determine whether they’ve been stolen.
At monthly meetings, COP members log different break and enters and vehicle thefts on a large map so they can identify where the activities are occurring.
When asked if patterns are emerging, safer communities co-ordinator Dave Dickson said it varies.
“This weekend, both Friday and Saturday night, the hospital was the hot spot, but we captured the suspects, so hopefully that’s going to see a drop. A lot of time you’ll see a spike, intel will come in, the members do their work, it dies, and then there’s a lull.”
Sullivan is one of the Mounted Citizens on Patrol and showed photographs of some training in April, where members learned to walk their horses over fire.
“They also taught us how to move an emergency vehicle through a crowd,” he said.
About eight members make up the Domestic Violence Prevention Committee.
“One of our stats that isn’t on the way down is the number of domestic violence incidents. It’s up by about 25 per cent,” Sullivan said.
Coun. Ivan Bonnell asked if those occur across all demographics and heard from Dickson that he recently worked with Victim Services and pulled 74 files to look at them by date, time, day of week, location, sex, age, employment, weapons involvement, drug and alcohol involvement, employment, injuries, courts and children involved. Both the offender’s and the victim’s stats were also taken into account.
“We attempted to paint a picture of what domestic violence looks like. I believe that if we can do our preventive things based on sound facts, we can be wise,” Dickson said.
Circles of Strength is a program that involves the domestic violence offender and victim. It doesn’t try to put them back together, but it helps them make wise decisions.
“Maybe this relationship was never meant to be and when they get help they can look at it objectively,” Dickson explained. It’s one of the only programs in the province, Dickson said, adding he received an inquiry from someone in Nanaimo wanting to start a similar program.
Because the program is new, Dickson said, it’s being watched very carefully.