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Citizens On Patrol extra eyes for Fort Macleod RCMP

A group of dedicated volunteers is helping to keep Fort Macleod residents safe.
Fort Macleod Citizens On Patrol is exactly that — local residents volunteering to drive through the community on the lookout for crime and suspicious activity.
The volunteer commitment is all about helping the Fort Macleod RCMP do their job.
“They can’t be everywhere or see everything,” Citizens On Patrol’s Cheryl Gatzky said. “If we can help them by having some extra eyes out there . . . it just gives them a little bit of help in that regard.”
Gatzky was at the Fort Macleod and District Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday at Fort Macleod Pizza.
The group earned praise from Sgt. Bryan Mucha, who has command of the Fort Macleod RCMP.
“The COP has been out there, really helping being eyes and ears,” Mucha said. “I think it’s fantastic.”
Citizens On Patrol works in Fort Macleod, including River Valley Wilderness Park and the campground.
Chamber members learned that Citizens On Patrol supplies a vehicle for the volunteers.
The organization bought cameras that are mounted on the front and back of the vehicle to capture footage that can be viewed later by the RCMP.
The safety of volunteers is of paramount importance to Citizens On Patrol.
“No one ever goes out alone,” Gatzky said. “There always has to be two people in the vehicle.”
When the volunteer patrol members spot something suspicious they report it directly to the RCMP member on that shift.
The volunteers are not allowed to get involved with stopping any criminal activity or engaging a suspect.
“All we do is call the officer on duty and let them know where it is happening,” Gatzky said. “That’s not our job. We’re simply an extension of them (RCMP) as eyes and ears.”
Before heading out the volunteers check in with the RCMP to let them know they are on patrol and to ask if there is anything they should be aware of, such as a particular vehicle or individual.
“We have developed a pretty good relationship with the RCMP here in town,” Gatzky said.
Citizens On Patrol is on duty in Fort Macleod at various times as volunteers are allowed to set their shifts to accommodate their own schedules and availability.
“We have volunteers who are going out during the day,” Gatzky said. “We have volunteers who are going out in the evening — it’s all hours.”
“The shifts vary all over the place and it simply works with the individuals.”
The 30 volunteers put in about 300 hours a month combined on patrols, travelling 1,600 to 1,700 kilometres.
Their dedication to the job allowed Citizens On Patrol to triple the number of hours it had volunteers on the road last year, and nearly double the number of kilometres patrolled.
In addition to regular patrols, last year Citizens On Patrol assisted the RCMP to search for two people who had been reported missing.
“We were able to call in all our members and had that many more eyes on the street,” Gatzky said.
Fort Macleod Citizens On Patrol meets the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Welcome Mat.
“We are continually looking for members,” Gatzky said.
People who want to get involved can attend a meeting or contact Citizens On Patrol via Facebook.

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