An impromptu meeting at Nipawin’s town square revealed interest in setting up a Citizens on Patrol Program to help prevent and reduce crime.
Barry Elliott, Nipawin’s administrator, said there were around 100 residents at the July 20 meeting.
“We had a signup sheet there and I think we collected approximately 50 names, so there seems to be a strong interest,” Elliott said. “People are very frustrated with what they see as the increase of criminal activity and vandalism and that sort of thing in town.”
This isn’t the first time there were discussions around forming a Citizens on Patrol Program (COPP) in Nipawin, with the RCMP organizing an information session in 2018. Despite the meeting, no Nipawin COPP was formed at the time.
Elliott said the town is currently in conversations with the RCMP to arrange for a program co-ordinator to come to Nipawin within the next month to give an additional information session and encourage more interest.
“Our role is just to help it to thrive through promotion, through coordination or opportunity to meet. We wouldn’t be providing any direct resources such as vehicles to use or equipment.”
The Citizens on Patrol Program is a community-led, police supported crime prevention, crime reduction program in Saskatchewan.
COPP works through unpaid volunteers having scheduled patrol routes where they patrol an area, communicating with an RCMP liaison. If they see something they deem suspicious they fill out a form on a COPP app to report it. When the liaison checks their own phone they will see the form and can investigate the report.
It gives the patrollers no extra power nor privileges, and they do not have the authority to arrest someone.
“What it would entail is people becoming involved in the program so we have a grassroots initiative within the community to assist the RCMP and just monitoring the community and reporting things that need to be reported,” Elliott said.
“It just puts more eyes on the street to keep an eye out for things that are not going well or things that are amiss.”
Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, not have a criminal record, not be involved in an active criminal investigation, and must complete a reliability security clearance.
Elliott said the time and date for the information session will be posted on the Town of Nipawin website at nipawin.com once it is set.
“People have to be there for the right reasons, and that’s community protection. We certainly don’t want to encourage people to come with lead pipes, pitch forks, that kind of thing. That’s not their role, this is not a vigilante program, this is a law support program.”
Nipawin’s Statistics Canada’s Crime Severity Index (CSI) score in 2020 was 158.95, compared to 147.24 in 2019 and 101.85 in 2018. Police reported they dealt with 1,564 Nipawin incidents in 2020, 1,408 in 2019 and 1,097 in 2018.
Out of 93 Saskatchewan policing districts that received a score in the report, Nipawin ranked 36th. The highest CSI in the province was seen in Black Lake, with a score of 1,153.72 in 2020 and 3,225 incidents.
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal