City council has approved a new Integrated Safety Ambassador Team of volunteers intended to provide “an enhanced level of safety to the citizens of Maple Ridge.”
It is believed to be the first team of its type in the Lower Mainland, if not the province.
“ISAT will be visible and present for local business interaction, community engagement and foot patrols, and will focus on initiatives filtered to the team from both the RCMP and the Community Safety Officer (CSO) section,” said a staff report.
“To our knowledge, this joint volunteer-based ambassador program involving the RCMP and a municipality is the first of its kind.”
The report describes how ISAT comes out of a desire to build a “robust joint volunteer program” that will focus on community safety, business outreach and “city spirit.”
Council heard a presentation by Crime Prevention Unit Supervisor Blair Berkner, outlining the work the volunteers will take on. Described as a “high-end volunteer group,” they will be tasked with:
• Community engagement – at events and through roaming patrols,
• Business outreach – both checking in and following up on issues reported
• Source of crime prevention information – providing pamphlets and offering internet access
• Reporting issues in the community – graffiti, needles, suspicious vehicles, garbage, criminal activity and more. There will be some focus on problematic parks and trails. The team will enter issues into reporting software.
The team members will have access to emergency communications systems for police matters, and will be supplied city radios to communicate with Community Safety Officers and other city staff.
There will be no added costs, said the report.
“I’m really excited and looking forward to what we could do bringing volunteers – Maple Ridge is pretty famous for its volunteer initiatives – and mobilizing that further under a joint-led program,” said Mayor Mike Morden.
“For me, one of the most valuable pieces that I’m looking forward to is that our citizens will be able to be actively engaged, and become part of the solution,” said Coun. Chelsa Meadus.
Coun. Ryan Svendsen called the new team “a huge piece in our community safety puzzle.”
“This integrated approach between the city and the RCMP is “cutting edge”, delivering services in a highly efficient manner with no duplication. This initiative will create synergy and support further collaboration between the CSOs and the RCMP with increased information sharing, data collection and referrals relating to the mandate of the program,” said the report.
The new initiative was unanimously supported by council.