OPP celebrates Auxiliary Program’s 60 years
By Jenna Thomson
By Jenna Thomson
The year 2020 is yet another significant milestone for the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) as it marks the 60th anniversary of the OPP’s Auxiliary Program.
The OPP Auxiliary Program currently has 56 units and an authorized strength of 1,000 members. The program is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading example of auxiliary police volunteers. Each year, auxiliary members log approximately 160,000 hours of volunteer service that includes community engagement and activities, crime prevention and patrol.
Members of the OPP Auxiliary come from a variety of circumstances; they vary in age and experience and include people who are pursuing a career in law enforcement as well as professionals who want to make a difference in their community.
“The Auxiliary Program within the OPP has dedicated volunteers who serve with pride, professionalism and honour for a safe and secure Ontario,” says Deputy Commissioner Chris Harkins, Provincial Commander of Field Operations, Ontario Provincial Police.
The program has evolved throughout the years, seamlessly adapting to the rapidly changing environment of law enforcement. As the OPP upholds the commitment to the Ontario Mobilization and Engagement Model of Community Policing, auxiliary members share a focus on promoting and supporting many community safety programs to deliver on the OPP’s promise to the people of Ontario – to provide a safe, secure and enjoyable place to live, work and visit.
Their duties include traffic control, supporting frontline members at major events, conducting surveys, holding seat belt clinics, assisting with Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (R.I.D.E.) initiatives, bicycle inspections and rodeos, safety displays and presentations, foot and road patrols with regular members, victim assistance, tagging evidence, ceremonial duties, supporting other community safety initiatives, and accompanying regular members on marine, ATV, bicycle and snow vehicle patrol.
Auxiliary policing is not the primary occupation of these remarkable volunteers. Members of the OPP Auxiliary come from a variety of circumstances; they vary in age and experience and include people who are pursuing a career in law enforcement as well as professionals who want to make a difference in their community. Their diverse backgrounds offer a wealth of skills and life experiences to the OPP.
“I started working for the OPP as a dispatcher in 1998. In 2000, I decided to join the OPP Auxiliary Program not only to volunteer in my community but also to gain insight of what happens on the other side of the radio,” says Auxiliary Insp. Barb Campbell, also the OPP’s regional director for East Region. “While contemplating a potential career as an officer, I realized that my best work was being done in the role of dispatcher, which allowed me to continue my role as an auxiliary in the community.”
She goes on to note how her 20-year career as an auxiliary has provided the opportunity to meet so many incredible people, many of whom continue with the program. Others move on within their respective careers or have become police officers for both the OPP and other services.
“For those who have joined the OPP, I am able to keep in touch with them and watch them grow to become extraordinary police officers,” Campbell continues. “I truly believe their auxiliary experiences have prepared them in ways they may never have had if they hadn’t joined the Auxiliary Program. The program offers so much from an internal prospective and also allows the OPP to stay connected with their communities in ways our regular members could not facilitate on their own.”
Auxiliary members work with frontline officers and community partners to help educate the public on different ways to help reduce crime and victimization in their communities.
Over the past few years, the program has been taking a leading role in promoting the OPP’s community safety and crime prevention programs. Auxiliary members work with frontline officers and community partners to help educate the public on different ways to help reduce crime and victimization in their communities. Having OPP auxiliary members educated in these areas assists them in bringing awareness to their community of the different risks that exist and how to mitigate those risks.
The OPP also gathers feedback from the auxiliary members in regards to the content and effectiveness of the crime prevention programs as they may think and see through a different lens.
Auxiliary members participate in programs such as positive ticketing, fraud prevention month in collaboration with the Serious Fraud Office, cannabis education, prevention and reporting of methamphetamine, online reporting, the “Lock it or Lose it” auto theft prevention program, the OPP Robbery Prevention program and the Safeguard Property Security program.
From its beginnings on April 1, 1960 up to today, every auxiliary member of the OPP has had an important role in ensuring crime prevention and public safety across the province.
“The communities and citizens of Ontario benefit from this program and its members every day,” Harkins says. “I am grateful for the service of each and every member of the Auxiliary Program.”
Jenna Thomson is a strategic communications officer with OPP Community Safety Services.