by Stephen Dafoe
A combination of COVID, cashflow and low membership has prompted Morinville Citizens on Patrol to hang up their flashlights and notepads after more than a quarter-century of being additional eyes and ears for the Morinville RCMP Detachment. COP Morinville, which began in 1994, folded on June 30.
“It was not a quick decision. It feels like everything came together at the same time to confirm that it’s time to take a break,” said the organization’s President Lis Melvin.
Judith Clarke, the organization’s longest-standing member, had recently stepped aside, something Melvin said was a great loss to the group. Additionally, the RCMP liaison officer assigned to the group is being transferred out of the area.
On top of those two setbacks, COVID-19 prevented the group from doing regular patrols due to the requirement of having two members travelling together.
Although a volunteer organization, the not-for-profit group was also plagued with limited financial resources to do some of the work it would like to do. Melvin said it had the resources to operate until the end of December. After that, COP would be in the red.
“It’s just not feasible,” Melvin said of the financial picture. New opportunities to receive a $200 honorarium at Town events had to get passed up due to a lack of available members. A planned Casino event could not happen due to COVID-19 and the fact the majority of the group’s members are seniors.
“We don’t have the membership at this point,” she said. “We had a few people in waiting that would love to join the group—again, COVID has brought its challenges. They’ve closed down doing criminal [records] checks for volunteers, so that slowed that right down.”
Melvin said her personal feeling was that continuing would be trying to breathe life into something that needs to stop for the time being.
In recent months, immediately before COVID, the organization had made strides in updating and modernizing, joining social media, updating its logo, and rewriting its bylaws.
“I was excited,” Melvin said. “Our bylaws were past the draft stage and becoming very close to being passed. COVID happened, and everything shut down. There was no opportunity to meet effectively, or patrol unless you are a husband and wife team.”
With COP meeting its demise locally, Melvin hopes residents will be the watchful eye for their neighbourhoods and community.
“It comes down to being a good neighbour. It’s all of our jobs to care for our community, care for our neighbour,” Melvin said. “If you see suspicious activity, don’t hesitate to call the RCMP.”
Melvin said she is grateful to the dedicated members past and present who have served the cause.
Disclosure: The author of this article was a volunteer member of the organization.