Citizens Patrol members Werner Mathys, Jacquie Erickson and Paula Weir pose for a photo during their volunteer duties. - Image credit: Photo contributed.

Citizens Patrol no longer directs traffic

Liability forces change, group needs more members

The work of Salmon Arm’s Citizens Patrol Society is being curtailed somewhat, but they could still use more help.

The volunteer group, which provides extra eyes and ears for the RCMP, is no longer permitted to provide flagging or other crowd control measures at intersections, due to potential liability.

Staff Sgt. Scott West confirms that the volunteers must now take the flagging training course in order to direct traffic.

President Paula Weir says the volunteers have been directing traffic for a long time but the three-day course would be too costly at more than $200 per person to train the 15 to 20 people who volunteer.

“So we will do many other things like we’ve always done, but we can’t do the traffic anymore.”

She said the two main events where they’ll not be able to help out directing traffic are the fall fair and Bike for Your Life. While they can still man traffic barricades, they won’t be out in the intersections.

Citizens Patrol are separate from the RCMP “but we work under them and for them and with them,” says Weir. “We can’t put ourselves in harm’s way. I think it’s a safety issue is really what it is. None of us want to get out there and have them run over us, and people aren’t very polite when it comes to flag people.”

In addition to helping out with events, the volunteers in yellow jackets patrol areas of Salmon Arm and Canoe in the afternoons and evenings via vehicle or bike, they set up Speed Watch to remind motorists of posted speeds, they carry out ICBC security-focused programs like Lock Out Auto Crime and take part in Emergency Response teams as needed.

The volunteers go through the malls’ parking lots, checking for stolen vehicles, and outdated or missing insurance decals.

“There are a lot of people who seem to forget to put decals on, so we leave them a little love note reminding them to apply their decal. It’s a $109 fine if police stop them. I always tell people we’re saving you money and leaving you little love notes.”

Weir said the group would like to acquire more volunteers so they can attend more events and keep up with their other duties.

Volunteers must be 19, must commit to a four-hour shift per month, and attend one meeting per month – usually about an hour long.

If you’re interested, you will find an application at police station. Once filled out you will have an interview with a police officer and then an interview with three members of Citizens Patrol. Once on board, there are three training sessions of four hours each. Once trained, you would be paired up with a senior member until you get your feet under you.

“It is good, and it is fun and it is work. We do enjoy it or I guess we wouldn’t be doing it,” smiles Weir.