Ian Gibbs, coordinator of volunteers for the Saanich Police Department, and Staff Sgt. Darrell Underwood stand in front of the new Saanich Community Safety Office at Uptown Shopping Centre. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Ian Gibbs, coordinator of volunteers for the Saanich Police Department, and Staff Sgt. Darrell Underwood stand in front of the new Saanich Community Safety Office at Uptown Shopping Centre. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich police call on volunteers for new community safety team

Community Safety Office to open spring 2021 at Uptown Shopping Centre

Saanich police has a new volunteer community safety team and is calling for applicants.

The Saanich Community Safety Office – operating through the Community Engagement Division of the police department and a team of volunteers – calls on those interested in a career in law enforcement or looking to give back to the community.

The office in Uptown Shopping Centre will be a place where residents can access information about the various volunteer programs offered in partnership with the Saanich Police Department, crime prevention resources and the community in general, said Ian Gibbs, who coordinates the department’s crime prevention programs and volunteers.

It’s a resource “for the community, by the community,” said Staff Sgt. Darrell Underwood, the police liaison and a 22-year member of Saanich Police Department.

The Community Safety Office, however, will not be a place to report crimes because there won’t always be an officer present – all police business will still be conducted at the station.

Volunteers will be asked to commit to at least one four-hour shift each week for a year and will be required to complete training and a criminal record check before starting work. Candidates will be asked to familiarize themselves with the community policing programs, be prepared to problem-solve, collaborate with other volunteers and police, maintain confidentiality, exercise good judgment, be able to handle stressful situations, be at least 19 years old and commit to following policies and procedures.

Underwood noted that the volunteer position can be a stepping stone to the Saanich reserve officer program, a career in law enforcement or simply a way for community members to give back.

Volunteering is a way to help the community while also getting that sense of accomplishment in return, said Gibbs who has worked with the Saanich police for 11 years.

Gibbs and Underwood hope to open the office in April but said about 35 volunteers need to be recruited before that can happen. Interested parties have until Feb. 5 to complete an online application form at saanichpolice.ca and any questions can be directed to the coordinator of volunteers at blockwatch@saanichpolice.ca. Eventually, the Community Safety Office will be open seven days a week during mall hours with public health and safety protocols in place.


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Ian Gibbs, coordinator of volunteers for the Saanich Police Department, and Staff Sgt. Darrell Underwood stand in front of the new Saanich Community Safety Office at Uptown Shopping Centre. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Ian Gibbs, coordinator of volunteers for the Saanich Police Department, and Staff Sgt. Darrell Underwood stand in front of the new Saanich Community Safety Office at Uptown Shopping Centre. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)