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N.B. citizen patrol group looks to expand membership

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Aimed at community members who want to give back and look out for their neighbours, the concept behind the Codiac Regional Citizens on Patrol Association is quite simple.

“Our program is designed on people walking around, or cycling, or driving around in their community,” said Yves Belliveau, president of the board of directors. “While they’re doing that they have an app open that follows them GPS-wise and if they see something happen in their neighbourhood, they would report it in the app.”

Belliveau says the app can’t be used when you’re driving by yourself – only if you have a co-pilot with you and the person in the passenger seat is running it.

After their outing is complete, they end their session on the app and the information gets sent straight to the Codiac RCMP.

“The next morning, the report gets dissected by an RCMP member or an auxiliary RCMP member – if it’s a bylaw issue it would go to bylaw, if it’s an RCMP issue it would go to RCMP,” Belliveau said.

Belliveau describes it as an enhanced neighbourhood watch program or neighbourhood watch 2.0 and it came to New Brunswick back in 2019.

“It was basically because the crime rate has been going up significantly and some citizens wanted to organize a group to try and help their community, look after their neighbours,” he said.

The association covers the same area the Codiac RCMP serves, including Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview and currently there are roughly 50 members signed up, but Belliveau says there’s a need for more.

“I would like to have, you know, 20, 30, 40 people per ward,” he said.

Belliveau noted bulk of its members are in the west end of Moncton so there really is a need to get more community members involved.

The group held an information and training session from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the YMCA off Vaughn Harvey Blvd in Moncton on Wednesday.

“If you don’t have enough members, the community doesn’t really know you’re around so we want to have enough members so that everybody knows that there’s going to be eyes and ears out there looking after what’s going on,” said Belliveau.

As for what exactly members “look after,” Belliveau says it’s completely non-confrontational and members record non-emergency situations on the app like graffiti, a neighbour’s garage door that’s been left open for a few days, a fence that’s been unlatched when you know a neighbour is on vacation or needles on the ground for example.

If there is something more urgent, members call 911 or the Codiac RCMP line like any citizen would do, but they never interfere with an unfolding situation.

“It’s not stopping a burglary in progress, it’s more of all the little things that happen in your community,” he said. “As you know, the RCMP or any police force, for them to allocate resources to an area, they need data. What the app does is it generates data, so either the blank reports or the event happening in your area, it gets recorded and once it’s recorded they have their data and then they can allocate resources when they’re necessary to a specific area.”

The Codiac RCMP wasn’t available for an on-camera interview on Wednesday, but Eric Larose, the manager of the community policing unit for the RCMP, says they stand behind the program.

He says the local policing unit adopted the program, app and idea from Alberta after New Brunswickers said they wanted to be more involved.

He notes anyone who wants to be a member goes through roughly three hours worth of training with an RCMP officer and safety is always at the top of the priority list.

Both Larose and Belliveau say it’s hard measure exact data for this type of patrol, but having more traffic and more reports is a positive thing.

“What I can tell you is in the areas where we have members, the confidence levels have gone up and people are happy to go and patrol and go around the neighbourhood and help their neighbour,” said Belliveau.

He also said more information and training sessions would be held down the road for community members who are interested in getting involved. 

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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