Groups of people on patrol in Lethbridge are increasing in numbers this month, as new volunteers join The Watch.
The Watch hit the streets on May 1 as an initiative by the Lethbridge Police Service to get community members engaged with keeping the city safer and more connected.
This month, the team saw 19 new additions, bringing the total to about 45 members.
“They are the eyes and ears for this community,” Lethbridge police Supervisor Sgt. Mike Williamson said.
“They have radios and they can radio into our dispatch, they have their own channel.”
The program calls “enthusiastic” residents over the age of 18 to walk through the downtown region.
According to Williamson, that means they walk, “from the river valley to Mayor Magrath Drive, to 5 Avenue North and 6 Avenue South.”
A typical shift on The Watch involves checking in on people, providing safe walks and first aid and sometimes calling for backup from first responders or social services.
Some of the people involved are hoping to become police officers themselves. Many are simply working to connect others with their downtown community.
“For me, going downtown is not a problem and I want to make sure everyone else feels the same way,” The Watch member Ashley Dominato said.
The teammates interact with homeless and vulnerable populations on a daily basis, offering support and calling for other services when needed.
“They don’t have the support that they always need,” The Watch member Terrany Dufault said.
“So when you’re there for them, you get to know them, you learn their stories, it’s honestly amazing.”
Williamson said he hopes to see The Watch volunteer base will eventually grow to the hundreds and stretch to patrol more than just the downtown core.