The group will work in conjunction with the local RCMP to keep watch over Coaldale streets and neighborhoods.
In its 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, Council identifies public safety as a key priority and, as a result, has remained focused not only on ensuring strong collaboration between the Town’s Community Peace Officer Program and the RCMP, but also, on exploring opportunities that will empower Town residents to play a constructive role in helping local law enforcement keep the community safe.
One of the opportunities currently being explored is the establishment of a Coaldale-based Citizens on Patrol group that, much like Citizens on Patrol groups in other Alberta municipalities, will work in conjunction with the local RCMP to keep watch over Coaldale streets and neighborhoods. “When we look around the province at what other municipalities are doing to enhance public safety, we see that a lot of them have established Citizens on Patrol groups”, said Town of Coaldale Mayor Jack Van Rijn. “These groups are made up of residents who volunteer for the RCMP and act as an extra set of eyes and ears in the community. If something appears to be criminal in nature, or is unusual, these volunteers will notify local law enforcement and report what they’ve seen or heard.”
For its part, Coaldale RCMP welcomes the idea. “The Alberta RCMP is committed to combining efforts with volunteer associations such as Citizens on Patrol”, said RCMP Staff Sgt. Mike Numan, Commander of the Picture Butte/Coaldale Detachment. “The contribution of Citizens on Patrol associations to Alberta’s law enforcement is evident, and the dedication of those who volunteer for these groups is reflected through their efforts to help promote crime reduction within our communities. In fact, this is one of the reasons why the RCMP recently adopted the RAVE alert mass notification system,” added Numan. “This system will enhance communication between the RCMP and these citizen-led groups, both of which share the goal of creating safe communities. I look forward to building on the RCMP’s partnership with Alberta Citizens on Patrol in Coaldale.”
At the November 14, 2022, Regular Council Meeting, it was revealed that Coaldale’s crime severity rate remains comparatively low. Data from Statistics Canada’s Crime Severity Index (CSI) shows that in 2021, Coaldale’s CSI score was 44.5 (22.9 lower than that of neighboring Taber (67.4), 65.5 lower than the national average (100), and 104.4 lower than that of neighboring Lethbridge (148.9)). Even so, Council believes that having a low crime severity rate only adds to the case for setting up a Coaldale-based Citizens on Patrol. “By and large, Coaldale is a safe place to live – especially when compared to municipalities like neighboring Lethbridge”, said Mayor Van Rijn. “But establishing a Citizens on Patrol group is a great way to ensure that Coaldale stays this way – and without having to spend extra money on policing costs. Many of our residents may not know this, but Coaldale is the only small town in Canada that has to pay 100 per cent of the costs for RCMP policing,” explained Van Rijn. “Right now, we’re in the process of working with the Minister of Justice and his team on trying to change that, but in the meantime, we’ve been trying to think of cost-effective ways to enhance public safety. We think setting up a Coaldale-based Citizens on Patrol group is one of those ways and will further our efforts as a Council to put Coaldale on the map as a safe place to live and raise a family.”
If you are interested in joining a Coaldale-based Citizens on Patrol group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Town office at 403-345-1374. Prospective Citizens on Patrol members must be at least 18 years of age and pass a criminal record/background check conducted by the RCMP.
To learn more about Alberta Citizens on Patrol, please visit: https://acopa.ca/.