No longer top COP

Gus Armstrong hands over reigns of Ladysmith Citizens on Patrol to Brian McLaurin after nearly a decade as co-ordinator.

Gus Armstrong

Gus Armstrong

After nearly a decade at the helm of Ladysmith’s Citizens on Patrol organization, Gus Armstrong has resigned from his position as co-ordinator.

Brian McLaurin was announced as Armstrong’s replacement at the COP’s last monthly meeting on April 16.

“My stay as a co-ordinator was a direct result of having a good executive committee and a good group of volunteers,” Armstrong told the Chronicle. “They’re all hard workers.”

Due to upcoming back surgery, Armstrong will be taking a leave from the organization and returning as a reserve member.

Armstrong, now 78, joined Ladysmith Citizens on Patrol in June 2000, several years after it had been established, and agreed to take the co-ordinator position in October 2003. He admits he turned the job down a couple times.

“Once I got involved, I wanted to do it right, so one of the first things I did was write the constitution and the operations manual,” he said.

John Perry was one of the first COP members to speak up after the announcement was made. Other members followed with a standing ovation.

“I think he does more volunteer hours than anyone in the association,” said Perry. “He lives and breathes it, he’s on top of everything that’s going on.”

Perry, a six-year Ladysmith COP member, said Armstrong has been one of a few dedicated members at the heart of the operation, and that he will be missed.

“We’re all disappointed that he’s leaving, but we understand, and we’re looking forward to working with Brian,” Perry said. “He’s a class act too.”

McLaurin retired three years ago while living on the mainland and moved to Ladysmith with his wife shortly thereafter. He has been involved with Ladysmith Citizens on Patrol for the last two years and also volunteers with the Town of Ladysmith.

“It was from an ad in the Chronicle, really, that drew my attention to the need for volunteers,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see the spirit of volunteering in Ladysmith. It’s a great little town.”

McLaurin said he is looking forward to the new position and expects it to absorb most of his volunteer time. He says he hopes to continue the stability Armstrong’s presence has brought to the organization.

“He’s done an excellent job over his nine years as co-ordinator,” McLaurin said. “I think our main challenge now is recruiting new members and keeping the existing volunteers engaged.”

The Ladysmith Citizens on Patrol has maintained about 30 to 35 members over the years, including active and reserve members, Armstrong said.

However, with an aging population, the organization is always looking to bring additional members into the fold.

Regular members are only asked to serve four hours a month and must undergo a criminal record check.

“It’s really not an onerous commitment, but it’s really valuable to the community,” McLaurin said.

In addition to patrols, Citizens on Patrol also offers the Speedwatch program and participates in the Stolen Auto Recovery Program, which allows them access to a databank to run license plates on vehicles of interest.

“We are the eyes and ears of the police, and the RCMP act as the brain,” Armstrong said.

To find out how you can get involved with the Ladysmith Citizens on Patrol, call 250-245-1118 or e-mail ladycompol@shawbiz.ca.