WESTLOCK — With the continued rise of rural crime, Westlock County is looking to partner with Westlock Citizens on Patrol (COP) to make hamlets safer.
The two entities will be holding several town-hall sessions in mid-to-late April, or early May, to recruit volunteers to patrol county hamlets including Vimy, Busby and others that are not already served by the Westlock group.
“(Westlock County reeve) Christine Wiese came to me and asked about it and we said we’ll help you get it started,” said Westlock COP president Garth Kohlsmith, noting a need for such patrols in the rural communities. “There’s quite a bit of crime going on down in these areas. We are the eyes and ears for the RCMP and if we see something, we phone them.”
Once started, the groups will be run via the Westlock COP, noted Kohlsmith, who hopes to get the groups organized and start training “so they can start patrolling.”
The goal is to establish volunteer groups in Busby, Vimy and other hamlets in the county as Kohlsmith noted that Fawcett already has an active group of about 10 to 12 members, who patrol the area from Pibroch up to Flatbush. The Westlock COP patrols Pickardville and the Village of Clyde on a regular basis as well.
“It’s just more people out looking around and contacting police,” he said. “We’ll start helping as soon as they get ready to go.”
Division 1 Coun. Sherri Provencal, whose area includes the Hamlet of Vimy, noted that bringing improvements to the rural areas has been a priority for her and Wiese and they’re grateful to Kohlsmith and the COP program “because that’s going to make our hamlets safer.”
Both Provencal and Kohlsmith noted that theft and break and enter are two main concerns for residents in the rural areas.
“We need to start looking after our hamlets and get something going to bring the value (back). Every place in all these hamlets are losing value on their homes that they own because of crime,” she said. “We just need to protect our assets and for people to start having pride again where they live.”
Residents wanting to get involved with the new groups can contact their county councillor directly, with Provencal adding they intend to continue with the open houses periodically throughout the year to connect with residents and allow them to see what they are doing.
Kristine Jean, TownandCountryToday.com
“That’s why we got voted in here. Residents wanted change and they’re getting it,” she said.