How to REALLY start a Citizens On Patrol Organization

How to Really Start a Citizens On Patrol Organization | ladonnaharris.comThis is the letter I nearly sent to an official early on in the process of starting this society. You can probably hear and feel the frustration. It was at this point in the process that I was about to give up, walk away, and never mention C.O.P. again!

Dear xxxxxxxxx,

I am highly frustrated; please forgive the tone of the following.

It seems like no one official (from the town to the RCMP to the ACOPA to ….) wants the C.O.P. in Xxxxxxxxxx. I understand that you are busy and I don’t expect you to babysit me through the process. I feel very alone in starting this organization because NO ONE seems to know what my next step is.

I will be at the meeting on the 2nd but I will also arrange an appointment with my local law enforcement agency and I will establish support in developing a C.O.P. group in my area. I will hopefully get commitment from a liaison officer at that time. I was under the impression that I’d done so already, however, since this seems to not be the case, I will try again.

I already have community support from 20 plus individuals.

I have poured over the ACOPA website. Their instructions are UNCLEAR and I have already made them politely aware of my opinion. They will address the issue, but I will also be re-writing the steps for the general public and posting on my own website for the next poor unfortunate soul who bites off more than they can chew, as I have apparently done.

I can’t do anything until I start the society but I can’t start the society without having an RCMP officer give us information but the RCMP can’t give me information without the society. So, I’ll start the society that can’t do anything for anyone, any time. And I can’t even apply to be a society until I have a society that wants to be started. So all this work may be for naught, if the government decides that we are unworthy to be a society. And then I will apologize for wasting everyone’s time!

I will modify the Facebook event details to further relay the new information I have been given today. If by chance the process for an RCMP officer to attend is complete by that date then I would love for that officer to attend, but I know how bureaucracy works and we’ll hold another meeting at a later date. I guess. Who knows.

Thank you for your help.

LaDonna Harris

Thankfully, after writing the above letter I made contact with a very helpful ACOPA director who talked me “off the edge” so to speak. He held my hand as my volunteers and I walked through this somewhat confusing process. What follows is how we made our way through the bureaucracy.

1. Visit (Alberta, Canada) and grab their instructions… but come back here for a detailed step by step I’ll-hold-your-hand-process. (Visit for other COPAs in Canada.)

2. The very first step is to speak with your local law enforcement to obtain their support to develop a COP in your area. Speak to the staff sergeant, the head hancho, the main-man. I spoke with 2 other officers and thought I’d done my due diligence. I proceeded with the next steps which resulted in a reprimand from the staff sergeant when I did speak with him. This is the individual who will supply your Liaison Officer.

NOTE: do not announce any meeting with the RCMP without speaking to them first! (Guess how I know?!?!) Ya gotta jump through their hoops in the correct order!

3. Get your community interested. If you see a need, chances are many others do too! In our community, petty crimes are out of control. Theft and vandalism had my friends up at all hours of the night. They were protecting their own street – keeping the culprits hopping. One summer this couple didn’t sleep.

4. On the ACOPA website, find the “Start of COP group” page. There you should find a Standardized Application Form. Have your volunteers fill these out and return them to you. Everyone will need to have one of these forms, including photo ID, as well as a Criminal Record Check.

The next step is pretty extensive, so I will give a post to that alone…Establish a Society. (coming soon!)

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