One of my greatest honours as a city councillor is to thank our volunteers for their time and dedication to our community. And of these great occasions the best are when I do so for our public safety volunteers, namely EMS and vCOP.
Last night was one of those moments when 60 of our volunteer Citizens on Patrol members came out for our annual summer BBQ. It is no coincidence that these folks are held in such high esteem that half of the city council came out to thank them in person along with the local police commander. Several Public Safety Agents came by to greet the volunteers as did long time EMS officer Joy Rodgers.
Mayor Anthony Housefather said, “Our area is the safest on the Island of Montreal because we have vCOP going beyond the call of duty.” He thanked each of them for their service on behalf of all residents of the city. Mayor Housefather, a former member of the Montreal Agglomeration Public Safety Commission, holds public safety and protection of citizens as one of his top priorities.
Neighbourhood Police Station 9 Commander Marc Cournoyer is no stranger to the volunteers as he attends all of our events and makes an extra effort to get to know many of the volunteers by name. Cournoyer has pledged the support of his police officers and expressed his deep appreciation to the volunteers. “Todah Rabah,” he exclaimed, thanking them in Hebrew.
Councillor Allan Levine said, “You cannot put a price tag on the work you do so freely for our residents. And by giving so many spouses a tremendous pastime, the divorce rate in Cote Saint-Luc is way down,” he joked.
Added Councillor Ruth Kovac, “What tremendous service you provide. Thank you. And thanks for taking my husband too,” she quipped. Her better half, Peter Kovac is a regular patroller with vCOP.
The spirit of the impressive turnout wasn’t dampened by dinnertime rain showers. New patrollers met more seasoned ones and supervisors Mitchell Herf and Susie Schwartz gave out pins to members with five years of service while Lewis Cohen manned the BBQ.
The loudest applause went to well-known Public Security Agent Johnny “Elvis” Champagne. The veteran patroller is celebrating 35 years of service as an employee of the city and is set to retire next month. A roar sounded in the room as Elvis was introduced. He gave an emotional farewell speech stating how much he loved the residents, volunteers and councillors that he has known for so many years.
As Champagne waved goodbye, to return to his evening patrol duties, I announced, “Elvis has left the building!” Another roar sounded in appreciation of this fine man.
vCOP members patrol the city in marked vans and on scooters, electric bikes and mountain bikes at all hours of day and night. Recognizable by their distinctive orange colours they are the eyes and ears of police and public security and assist residents by reminding them of local bylaws and providing tips and help in a friendly and neighbourly fashion.
In addition to routine patrols, vCOP carries out door to door smoke detector inspections, crosswalk duties in school zones, delivers emergency water supplies and participates in missing person searches. They are called out at any hour to assist at emergency scenes by blocking traffic, crowd control and many other situations. We are very lucky to have this corps of volunteers, always ready to assist at events and emergencies and anywhere they are needed.
On July 1st vCOP will celebrate its 9th year of service in Cote Saint-Luc. This one-of-a-kind service, not found anywhere else in Quebec, is a model organization and operates on a minimal budget. I thanked Mayor Housefather and my fellow councillors for their solid support of vCOP since I proposed creating this group back in 2005, shortly after demerger.
vCOP is overseen by a volunteer leadership including myself, our four supervisors, and about ten other leaders. Professional staff are CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson and Chief Philip Chateauvert. If you, or someone you know, would like more information about joining vCOP please visit CoteSaintLuc.org/vCOP.