By Lyonel Doherty
Now, the people up to no good in Oliver will see Crime Watch coming from a mile away.
On Tuesday, the Town of Oliver officially handed over the new Crime Watch truck to volunteers who patrol the community.
“Now instead of skulking around in your personal vehicle, we are obviously going to be visible,” said volunteer Bill Morrison.
The pickup truck is a former Public Works vehicle that has been rebranded and outfitted with radios for police contact.
“It can’t be anything but a help in the deterrent end of things because all the ne’er-do-wells will know this vehicle is out there all the time,” Morrison said.
The volunteer noted that citizens on patrol can’t really do anything other than observe and report suspicious activity to police.
Morrison said having a presence in the community is the key.
He stated it’s the volunteers’ job to deter the criminals, while it’s the RCMP’s job to “catch them and bust them.”
Fellow volunteer Ray Gardner agreed, saying it is an excellent deterrent.
He said while the truck has some features to help in that regard, the real features are the volunteers, who are the eyes and ears of the police.
Gardner said they are hoping to get a radio system with direct contact with individual RCMP members. The current radio system only allows them to contact a dispatcher in Kelowna. “It would speed things up a bit if we want to get a hold of them (RCMP).”
The Crime Watch group is also working towards putting a dash camera on the truck.
Morrison believes the new branding of the truck will definitely boost public awareness. He recalled a few times when they were patrolling neighbourhoods in their own vehicles. Some people thought they were the actual criminals skulking around. One night he was stopped by an RCMP officer who questioned his slow-driving behaviour on Highway 97.