A mere week after the launch of a city-wide crime watch program, City Watch, in Grand Forks and the training is already paying off.
On Wednesday, March 28 the Grand Forks RCMP were called out to a break and enter in progress at a home on 16th Street in Grand Forks at 8:20 a.m.
"The police immediately attended and the suspect had just fled the scene," said Grand Forks RCMP Staff Sergeant Jim Harrison.
That's when a Grand Forks city worker with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4728, who was operating a street cleaner, stepped in with his new City Watch training. He immediately noticed the unusual activity and pointed the police in the right direction.
Thanks to him, RCMP apprehended 51 year-old Rodney Matkovich of Grand Forks and charged him with break and enter.
"(The city staff person) knew exactly what to do and put us hot on the trail to catch the guy," said Harrison. "Right out of the gate and we are seeing (City Watch) works."
While Matkovich had nothing in his possession when police caught up to him, he still faces a serious charge, said Harrison. A break and enter doesn't mean a suspect has to have broken into a residence to be charged. The charge is as much about the intent of the actions as it is about the actions.
Matckovich went to court the following day and was released on conditions on Friday, March 30. The conditions included a curfew, which Matkovich breached on Saturday, March 31 and has been remanded in custody for breaching the bail condition, said Harrison.
"He didn't want to pay attention to what the judge said so now he can have another appointment with the judge,"said Harrison.
City Watch the daytime eyes in Grand Forks
City Watch is a CUPE sponsored program that partnered CUPE Local 4728 with the Grand Forks RCMP, the City of Grand Forks and CUPE B.C. to keep city streets safe through trained crime prevention measures.
Grand Forks is the thirtieth community to join the province-wide program.
About 15 CUPE of the 20 outside staff from the City of Grand Forks were trained by the RCMP six weeks ago. The program was officially launched to the public last week.
"Basically it is good P.R. with us all working toward the same goal of safe communities," said Mike Noseworthy, CUPE local 4728 president.
We're out there anyway ... This will give the bad guys another thing to worry about. They aren't just looking for police cars anymore. Now they better be looking for loaders and dump trucks too.
Training includes how to watch for and report criminal or suspicious activity in the community.
"Most of the (city workers) know the local community like the back of their hand," said Harrison. "They already have radios in their trucks, so they can communicate quickly to us ... The city staff give us extra eyes in the day and the Citizens On Patrol are our extra eyes at night."
For more information about the program please visit http://cupe.bc.ca/campaigns/city-watch.