Loon Lake to revitalize Citizens on Patrol program

by Phil Ambroziak

It’s time to take a stand.

That’s how some residents of Loon Lake and the surrounding area feel after a recent crime spree gripped the community.

Last month, RCMP apprehended a group of young people who subsequently admitted their connection to incidents of vandalism and other crimes committed throughout the community over the approximate span of a week. According to resident Bernard Trahan, however, efforts to revitalize a Loon Lake Citizens on Patrol (COP) program were already underway earlier in the season.

“We actually started to get the group back together this summer, before that particular crime spree even happened,” Trahan said. “It was just a weird coincidence that it happened around the same time.”

According to Trahan, the COP program was originally introduced close to six years ago, but fell by the wayside in recent years because of a lack of involvement.

“There’s always been quite a bit of crime in this community, so we do our best to help the RCMP out a bit and to make our presence known in the area,” he said. “We go out in vehicles and, if we see anything suspicious, we alert the RCMP. We never confront anyone or take an aggressive stand – we’re not supposed to do that.”

With the group’s recent decision to rejuvenate its efforts, Trahan said there is a need to recruit more members to ensure the program operates at its fullest capacity. Currently, the COP program boasts around a dozen volunteers, but Trahan said it would be ideal to have between 24 and 36.

”We never did have a lot of members, and that’s why things sort of fell apart,” he noted. “The RCMP has told us, however, that the group did have a positive impact on their statistics.”
COP member Arlee Hein agreed.

“We need more members because we only have a few and it can get to be a bit much for some people,” she said. “The more people who get involved, the more they will realize the importance of it.”
Trahan said, during the recent crime spree, COP volunteers were likely on patrol.

“Unfortunately, we can only go out for three to four-hour shifts at one time and it’s impossible to be everywhere at once,” he said.

Volunteers always patrol the community in pairs and – although he would like to see more people come forward sooner rather than later – Trahan admits it could be difficult to attract more participants now that winter is fast approaching.

“The problem at this time of year is things tend to quiet down as far as traffic is concerned,” he said. “The other unfortunate thing is we always have an outbreak of crime when everybody leaves for the season.”

According to the RCMP, there were 63 cabin and shed break-ins between Sept. 1 and 25 while windows were smashed on at least 17 vehicles.

“It’s to the point where people are afraid to leave their homes, whether they have a security system or not,” Hein said.

Loon Lake RCMP Sgt. Shawn Carter described the COP program as a bonus for the police service.

“They can’t do anything but good,” he said. “They are an extra set of eyes and ears on the street, and if people know they are being watched, perhaps they will be less likely to commit a crime.”

Feedback? Text it at 240-4553 or email pride.news@sasktel.net

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