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Councillor Glenn J. Nashen on duty with vCOP

Councillor Glenn J. Nashen on duty with vCOP

The city of Cote St. Luc has the lowest crime rate in the Montreal area — and a citizen patrol that’s been in place for nearly a decade in the city is being credited for a lot of that.

Glenn Nashen, who’s now the acting mayor of Cote St. Luc, helped start the program in 2006, and has been involved with it ever since.

He says the idea came from the United States, where citizen patrols are in place across the country.

“It’s something that I had seen in operation in the States,” he says. “I noticed that it was an organization that exists across the U.S., as well as in B.C., Manitoba, and a sprinkling elsewhere in Canada, but not really in Quebec at all.”

The Cote St. Luc force has 80 volunteers, what get around in vans, on bikes and scooters, and on foot. They’re trained in part by the police and fire departments to act as observers.

“Their role is to note things that take place that are out of the ordinary, or seem wrong, or seem out of place that might require a higher level of follow-up,” he says. “And in order to bring any assistance to anyone that would stop them or flag them down, or if they notice anything that’s a danger or problematic as they go on their patrols.”

He says the volunteers will stop to things as simple as helping older people across the street, informing residents about garage doors they believe were left open inadvertently, and checking for smoke detectors that aren’t working properly. They’ll also be sent to fire calls to assist in blocking off streets, and help in the search for missing people.

“There’s no question that it contributes to a reduction in criminality,” Nashen says, “but moreover, if gives a sense of security and a sense of well-being to our residents.”

The town of Baie d’Urfé is among the few other Canadian communities with a similar citizen patrol — a patrol which Nashen says they had a hand in helping train.