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Citizens to patrol Pemberton

Volunteers sought to act as 'another set of eyes'

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Pemberton is sick of vandalism and it wants citizens' help to prevent it.

In concert with the RCMP, the Village of Pemberton is convening a "Citizens on Patrol" squad to tackle waves of vandalism that have struck Pemberton 70 times this year.

"For the last couple of years we've had ongoing issues with regard to vandalism and other activities which really do cost the community money," Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said. "The police that we have in Pemberton, the RCMP, do a good job, but they are not always available and they're not always on."

Vandals have attacked various sites throughout town in the past year. Pemberton Taxi got hit particularly hard in July as vandals struck buses that shuttle senior citizens between the village and Mount Currie.

On July 29 Pemberton Taxi Owner Mark Hunter discovered all six tires slashed on one of his buses, while another bus had four tires slashed. This came just three weeks after two of his buses were set on fire. One was completely destroyed while parked in the lot next to the new Pemberton Community Centre. The other bus was "severely damaged."

The night of the fire proved an active one for vandalism in Pemberton. That same night, vandals smashed the glass windows at the Pemberton Esso station at about 4 a.m. Cigars and several other tobacco items were stolen, according to the RCMP. Vandals also smashed a window on a police vehicle parked on Arbutus Street.

Those aren't the only incidents that the village and the RCMP hope a new patrol squad will help prevent. Sturdy said Pemberton has spent "thousands and thousands of dollars" replacing municipal property, including irrigation pumps at the new bike park and trees at Signal Hill Elementary School.

"These things happen at night, people aren't around all the time," he said. "One of the (RCMP) members was parked at the park specifically at the elementary school where there's lights off. Along comes a couple of people that have come out of some drinking establishment more than likely and they start breaking the trees!

"He went and arrested them and I thought it was great. Why do you go break a tree? What does that do for the community except cost us money and break a tree?"

Sgt. Eric Frechette at the Pemberton RCMP said officers from the Whistler detachment are overseeing the program and that it's meant to create an extra set of eyes around the community.

"There's only so many officers in Pemberton," he said. "It would be great to get Citizens on Patrol if they could assist in having another set of eyes out there."

A community notice about the Citizens on Patrol sent Sept. 17 said its mission is to improve safety by training volunteers to partner with police so that they can observe and report suspicious activity around town. Volunteers will be asked to act as dedicated community observers in areas where crime may take place.

Volunteers won't be engaged to replace the local police force but help officers direct their attention to areas of potential crime.

Anyone interested in being part of the patrol is invited to attend an information session on Oct. 8 at the new Pemberton Community Centre at 7 p.m. Sturdy is encouraging everyone to take part in this initiative, as at least 15 volunteers are required to ensure the program has enough power to get off the ground.

 

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