As a mini crime wave washes over Brandon — throwing a chill in the hot summer air — an anti-crime group still can’t find enough volunteers.
This despite the fact that many of the crimes you’ve read about in the pages of the Brandon Sun are the types that the Citizens on Patrol Program can help prevent.
As you read in a recent Sun story two weeks after a lovely suburban house was burned to the ground and teenage gangsters later charged, the Brandon COPP needs more volunteers.
"We need them badly," Brandon COPP chairman Ralph Warman said.
Currently, COPP has 44 members with a core group of a dozen members who are consistently active.
Members are asked to spend a minimum of four hours per month on patrol.
As you read in the Sun, COPP members don’t make arrests. They’re equipped with cellphones, which they use to call police if they see any trouble.
The organization works closely with the Brandon Police Service.
The yellow-vested COPP volunteers are effective eyes and ears for the men and women in blue.
And some of their best work is watching what’s going on in the back lanes and dark parks at night while the rest of us are sawing logs.
These are the types of crimes that have just happened in Brandon that an organization such as COPP have the ability to prevent:
•Two teenage boys will face arson charges in relation to a Brandon house fire earlier this month. A family of four managed to escape the devastating 28th Street house fire in the early-morning hours of June 13, although one of their pets was killed.
Police said within days that the fire was arson and was probably linked to a series of shed and yard break-ins elsewhere in the neighbourhood that same night, including one where a jerry can was stolen.
The charged youths have ties to the Young Bucks, the youth wing of the Indian Posse street gang.
• Police say that a 52-inch Samsung TV was among the items stolen from the home, on the 2700-block of Rosser Avenue, while the owner was at work.
The theft was discovered just before 2 a.m. on Tuesday. Also stolen was an XBox gaming system and a wallet.
• Police are trying to track down a dozen handguns that were stolen during a brazen early-morning burglary at a city firearms store.
Police were alerted to an alarm at Jo-Brook Firearms on the 900-block of 24th Street around 4:20 a.m. on Tuesday. The investigation indicates that the thieves had entered the locked store through a back door.
• Shortly after 6 a.m. on July 1, a home in the 700-block of 10th street was shot up from the back lane with what could have been an automatic weapon.
• A 15-year-old Brandon boy faces a half-dozen charges after a series of break-ins and thefts earlier this month. Two sheds and two garages had been broken into overnight. Items had also been taken from inside a vehicle.
If there was a COPP patrol in those areas, the bad guys likely would have kept moving along. And if something did happen, perhaps a licence plate or description could have been jotted down.
COPP is also at work trying to track down graffiti vandals who have been on a massive spray-painting spree since spring.
Warman told Sun crime and courts reporter Ian Hitchen that he’d like to recruit more members.
He’d especially like to see young recruits as most of the current members are seniors.
"It’s hard to get younger people interested," Warman said.
"We do have some younger people, but it’s mostly seniors that are retired."
While it’s true that retirees do have some spare time, surely some younger adults can spare a minimum of four hours a month on patrol to help keep the city safer?
As the crime rate increases — and how terrifying was that random 28th Street arson? — citizens are going to have to stand with their neighbours and protect their turf.
Those interested in joining COPP can call Warman at 726-4770. Applicants must be 18 years old or older and undergo a criminal record check. The cost of the background check is covered by MPI.
@04.4 Brief Hed:<*p(0,0,0,11.2,0,2,g(P,S))>PROGRESS SLOWED
DUE TO BAD DEAL
One of the best stories we’ve had lately told of how the Keystone Centre — under what appears to be some fantastic new leadership — will sever its catering contract with the Canad Inns.
Canad Inns and the cash-strapped Keystone Centre signed the deal in 2005, but had to wait under terms of the deal until now to cut the restrictive deal.
"It’s a very significant amount but it was a business decision and a great one to make," Keystone Centre chairman John Macialek told Sun reporter Keith Borkowsky. "For our bottom line, it will be a positive impact for our future."
The centre has been looking for additional revenue streams and after signing a contract with the Wheat Kings hockey franchise, turned its sights on the Canad Inns deal.
Running their own catering will allow the Keystone to attract some shows that weren’t interested in using Canad Inns’ catering services — for whatever reason.
This will allow a few more pavilions in the city-wide Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival to find suitable accommodations (in my view, the majority of the pavilions should remain scattered around town).
It will also pave the way for a casino to be located on the Keystone Centre grounds — downtown is not a given, as some observers would have you believe — if the current talks progress to a site selection stage.
The termination of the Keystone Centre’s 12-year catering contract was a long-time coming.
@04.4 Brief Hed:<*p(0,0,0,11.2,0,2,g(P,S))>NEWS RELEASES ONLY
AS EMAIL ATTACHMENTS
This will be my twice-yearly plea to communicators of all stripes wishing to notify the Brandon Sun of some event or provide us with some information.
Please have that information in the text window of the email and do not only have it included in attachments.
We get literally hundreds of emails from dozens of groups and individuals through our email@example.com central email address.
But the flow of information is slowed when we have to open a lot of attachments — such as a word .doc., PDF file, or even an excel .xls.
And then there are the mystery attachments that we simply can’t open — such as a winmail.dat — we just delete those outright.
We just need to know the five-Ws and be able to cut and paste that information onto our master story sked so that we can decide how best to tell readers about your event closer to when it’s going to happen.
So again, the best way to ensure your information has the best chance of being seen and acted on by an editor is to simply type it out in the message window of your email.
Or do what some real pros do, they prepare their fancy formatted press release on letterhead, but then cut and paste the text into the message window of the email.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 7, 2012