Residents in Moncton’s west end may be the first in New Brunswick to test out an app called Citizens on Patrol, currently being used in cities across Canada.
“The old west end and the new west end are likely going to be a pilot for this particular app,” said resident Peter Ryan, who also heads up an informal community watch program for the neighbourhood.
Citizens on Patrol allows community watch members to use their phones to track, pinpoint and describe suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods.
“Whether it was graffiti or alcohol related or a mysterious car, so it will immediately go to the RCMP detachment and the will sift through it. It is not intended to replace real emergencies, so if something is happening in real time, call 911 as you normally would,” said Ryan.
Codiac RCMP’s community policing officer Const. Christy Elliott said the district started researching the app earlier this summer. The idea, she said, is still very much in the research stages because someone would have to be put in place to police the app.
“That information has to be gathered and someone needs to hold that sifting pot to decide where does that information go. Is it bylaw, or maybe it is information that is not pertinent to anything but it was put on our radar,” said Elliott.
She and members of the west end met with city councillors on Thursday to discuss what resources would be needed to pilot the app.
Elliott said New Brunswick and Newfoundland are the only provinces in Canada not currently using it. She added that people using the app need to have a criminal record check, be 18 years old and have a valid drivers licence before they can be approved to use it.
Ryan said it could be a valuable tool for their now-informal neighbourhood watch program. But, he says, it has its limitations, as people who are not technically savvy may shy away from using it.
He hopes resources can be put in place this fall so that west-end residents can at least test out the app.
“To be able to say. ‘OK, we’ve seen this and this at this particular location, let’s address it,”