A neighborhood patrol program established last fall for the Riverview area of the city continues to seek volunteers about a month after beginning operations.
The Riverview Ward Patrol, which was founded by Brandon city councilor Glen Parker in September of last year, began its “active crime deterrence” programming on Jan. 2, with a few trial runs taking place in late December. Currently, about 14 volunteers and students from the Assiniboine Community College’s Police Studies program are manning the initiative.
Parker said the program would run most effectively with about 50 patrollers, allowing each volunteer to participate in night watch activities about once a month.
“We don’t want volunteers to be working the patrol once a week,” Parker said. “I have a day job and various other responsibilities. Patrol nights are late. You’re up until two in the morning and it can mess with a day job if you’re doing it often. That’s why we’d like to get enough volunteers so each one could go out once a month.”
Considering patrollers are not supposed to engage with suspects involved in illicit activities, Parker noted that almost anyone can lend a hand.
“You don’t have be the man from Brussels full of muscles to participate,” he said. “We just need a set of eyes to call police if you see something. A confrontation is the last thing we want.”
And the severely cold weather experienced in the Brandon area should not prevent potential volunteers from signing onto the Riverview Ward Patrol. If it’s extremely cold, the patrol is canceled, as has been the case on a few nights through January, said Parker.
“Even the bad guys aren’t going to go out with a minus-35 degree wind chill,” he said.
The Riverview Ward Patrol was announced in September following discussions with stakeholders through the previous five months. The program’s primary goal is to educate neighborhood residents about protecting themselves against various property-related crimes, such as break and enter, vandalism, vehicle theft, bicycle theft and other activities. A nightly patrol of the Riverview Ward is a part of the overall program.
The project’s budget was set at $6300 per year with most of the money being used for fuel consumed during patrols. The rest is used to fund required equipment like high visibility vests, high-powered flashlights, door-to-door educational literature, insurance and an annual volunteer event.
Organizers intend the program to be self-sustaining, with no money coming from city taxpayers. Instead, businesses and individuals with a stake in the Riverview area make contributions on a one or two year basis.
“We’re in good shape for this year with funding and commitments from those who have stepped up with contributions for two years,” said Parker. “Right now, our primary concern is getting a little bit of a commitment for the equipment we need.”
Patrollers have already discovered a few things about the neighborhood that helps them provide more effective protection to area residents. Parker said they have determined zones where high traffic and lighting provides some security, while lesser lit and traveled areas may attract individuals out to steal or vandalize property.
“(The patrol) has been learn as you a go a little bit,” he said. “One of the things we discovered is if we don’t see anything, we wonder if we really need to be out there. But if it’s quiet, that’s good. There have been incidents where police were called for a variety of things and people were stopped from proceeding with what they were doing.”