Community Policing funds keep the lights on

When Carol Ann Rolls came to the Cowichan Valley Regional District Board meeting this month she looked tired.

The longtime backbone of Cowichan Community Policing seemed almost resigned as she asked the board to increase funding to the group, which has not seen a financial raise since 2005.

The years of having to organize and hold fundraising events seemed etched on her demeanour as she described the problem of losing volunteers who had joined to do crime prevention work, but whose duties had increasingly fallen into the realm of selling lottery tickets to try to keep the doors open instead.

It’s easy to understand why someone who has signed up to do Citizens on Patrol or Speedwatch might not want to have to instead carry the burden of bringing in tens of thousands of dollars for core operational funds.

We were very pleased to see the board unanimously, and with no foot-dragging, grant Rolls’s request. Community Policing serves a very important function in Cowichan’s communities.

Their work on crime prevention saves the RCMP time and dollars that can be put towards apprehending the area’s lawbreakers. It also helps residents to buy into the idea that they can help to keep their own communities safe. Secure, happy communities are a collective responsibility, not just something imposed by a paid police force.

But the funding and fundraising struggles described by Rolls are all too familiar and not limited to Community Policing. Many other organizations and societies in Cowichan, and indeed, around the province and the country, are struggling to secure their futures as expenses increase and previous funding sources dry up.

Many of these organizations have also had a lot of responsibility downloaded onto them as provincial and federal governments make draconian cuts to programs and services, particularly for the poor and needy, and give tax breaks to those who don’t really need it.

Our local governments have also taken on the funding burden as these organizations turn to them for money.

Responsibility needs to be sent back up the food chain.

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