History of Yorkton COPP
In the fall of 1996, six citizens of Yorkton got together over a cup of coffee to discuss how they could help the RCMP with the increased problem of criminal activity happening at that time. After this discussion, they then approached the RCMP to see what they thought about the idea of volunteers patrolling the streets of Yorkton acting as the extra eyes and ears for them.
On October 31, 1996 the Yorkton COPP program was introduced to the city of Yorkton. In the beginning COPP members used their own vehicles, cell phones and also supplied their own fuel. Members patrolled on Friday and Saturday nights, assisting the RCMP to deter crime in the community.
As with any new program public awareness was needed in order to inform residents and businesses of what the COPP program was all about. Some of this was accomplished through the local media, which resulted in more citizens wanting to get involved in the program and others giving cash donations to support the program. As the program grew, so did the funding and sponsorship.
Members not only volunteered their time to patrol the streets of Yorkton, they also participated in fund raising activities such as barbeques, raffles, security and traffic control at concerts or the busy times of year at the Liquor board store. In addition, members of COPP approached the City of Yorkton to ask for financial assistance and also wrote letters to various government agencies to seek financial assistance. Through the hard work of its volunteers and the generous financial support of its major sponsors, the business community and the citizens of Yorkton, there have been major improvements to the COPP program. The program now owns three patrol vehicles, supplies all the fuel, has its own communication equipment which consists of a repeater system with five portable radios so that members can communicate with each other while out on patrol. The Patrol cars are equipped with first aid kits, fire extinguishers, safety vests and emergency lighting. The RCMP has supplied COPP with three portable police radios, which allows for direct contact with them. This has proven invaluable in reporting crimes in progress.
The Yorkton COPP program is registered both provincially and federally as a non-profit charitable organization, which allows the issuing of tax receipts for donations received.
In 2003 COPP started doing patrols of residences whose owners were away on vacation. A vacation form is available at the Yorkton City Detachment of the RCMP or at City Hall. Homeowners can pick the form up, fill it out and return it to the RCMP. After the form has been completed the information is sent to COPP, whose members then make extra patrols of that residence while the owner is away.
As of January 1, 2007 the Yorkton COPP program has fifty members, male and female, ranging in age from 18 years old to members in their seventies. The Executive consists of a president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary and three directors. Membership meetings are held every second month, except for July and August. COPP members patrol the streets of Yorkton nightly seven days a week, the exceptions being Christmas and Easter.
Over the years COPP members have been directly responsible for detecting break and enters, assaults, vandalism, vehicle thefts and impaired drivers. COPP members also assist with traffic control at accident and fire scenes when required. There are times when COPP members are asked to assist in searching for a missing person or watching a residence while a search warrant is obtained.
Members of the Yorkton COPP program pay a $25.00 yearly membership fee, which in itself shows that they are committed to the program and committed to making Yorkton a safer community to live in.
At present there are numerous COPP programs throughout Saskatchewan. As a result of the hard work of COPP volunteers, Yorkton now has one of the best COPP programs in Canada. The Yorkton COPP program is recognized as being the first COPP organization in the province. On a yearly average, members of the Yorkton COPP program volunteer 4000 hours of their time, log 45,000 kms and report 100 or more criminal incidents. This COPP program has proven effective in detecting and deterring crime, which is why members of the Yorkton Citizens On Patrol Program will continue to patrol the streets of Yorkton for many years to come.