The Osoyoos community now has more eyes and ears watching for crime as a Local Citizens on Patrol effort adds a new coordinating duo.
Csaba Hollo and Diane Ruscheinsky, who moved to Osoyoos in June 2017, received their distinctive yellow COP jackets yesterday and will now get to work recruiting other members of the community who want to help slow crime.
“I worked the last 15 years for the RCMP, 10 years in Richmond and five years in Langley,” said Diane. “We see what’s happening and it has to stop. We can be the eyes and ears to give (officers) the information and get them there faster or question people.”
Csaba says a life-long love for Osoyoos and the South Okanagan drew him to the community when he retired last year and also spawned the idea of serving as a COP member.
“I’ve been coming to the valley for years. I used to pick fruit here when I was 15 years old,” he said. “And I’ve been bringing my kids and grand kids to Osoyoos every year holidaying. I knew I always wanted to live here and retire here.”
By watching, documenting and reporting, members of Citizens On Patrol will provide a presence in the community while patrolling by vehicle, on foot, by bicycle or other means.
Their membership will be readily apparent with the bright yellow windbreakers they wear. They will also carry a photo ID.
“If you see someone with a jacket like this, don’t be afraid to ask them who they are,” said Sgt. Jason Bayda, the Osoyoos RCMP detachment commander. “If they’re Citizens on Patrol, they’ll have picture ID with them.”
He expects the Patrol to provide substantial support to the uniformed officers assigned to the community.
“They’ll report what they see — they won’t confront; they will contact us and report to us what’s going on. Hopefully, we’ll hear about things sooner rather than much after the fact.”
Restoring the Citizens of Patrol program is just one measure Osoyoos RCMP plans to implement this summer to beef up policing in the community.
“One thing I want to do this year is increase police visibility,” Sgt. Bayda said. “We as uniformed members will be doing foot-patrols about town. I’ve invited Mayor and Council to join us on some of those and they’re very eager to do so. We’ll be stopping at different coffee shops; I want people to join us.”
The Town and RCMP are also expected to add additional uniformed members for the summer season under a visitation program that has proven very effective in years past.
Osoyoos residents interested in joining the local Citizens on Patrol can contact Sgt. Bayda at 250-495-7236. Interested participants undergo background checks before being granted COP status.