School resource officer connecting with youth

Cst. Jon McNickle says students responding positively to SRO

By Stu Salkeld The Stettler Independent

Judging by a report filed to Clearview Public Schools trustees Aug. 31, the presence of a school resource officer has been a boon to the community.

Trustees, during their regular board meeting, heard a report from Stettler RCMP’s Cst. Jon McNickle, the local SRO. He gave trustees an update on various activities.

McNickle stated he’d handled 90 files last year at various schools. “A lot of them traffic related,” said McNickle to the board. “I think I made one arrest.”

He reported that Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE class, were instructed at various schools, and the program will be running within the division again in 2017-18.

The SRO reported he did some coaching at schools as well.

Another event he was associated with was the “drunk goggles” event. This involves students wearing vision-impairing goggles, then riding a cart around obstacles to simulate impaired driving. The obstacles were borrowed from the High River Citizens on Patrol. McNickle said he’s hoping to hold that event again this year.

Other student-related activities included helping students out with student’s union constitution, and a Grade 6 camping trip.

As well, an outreach program called “Coffee with a Cop” where students can relax and talk about issues with McNickle was well received. “It went pretty well,” said the SRO.

“Hour Zero” school emergency response program site visits were also conducted. “That was pretty neat to go through,” said McNickle.

The RCMP officer also discussed changes to a Town of Stettler bylaw that applies to vaporizers, items that are involved in tobacco. McNickle said vaporizers are now prohibited anywhere where tobacco is prohibited.

He reported he also helped out at almost all the Terry Fox Runs last fall. He said he’d like to see them all held the same day to simplify things like traffic control.

At Halloween time, McNickle said he got in the spirit by dressing up as a Star Wars character and participated in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, a campaign to raise awareness of family violence where participants walk 1.6 km in high heels.

One thing the SRO said he dealt with was underage cigarette smoking on school property. McNickle said he gave out many warnings first before writing tickets.

McNickle reported he has completed training for directed energy equipment, commonly called tasers.

Trustee Dave Goodwin asked McNickle how the youth respond to him. McNickle responded, ‘The kids are all…accepting, I guess.” He said he’s written a few tickets, but the youth don’t seem to hold a grudge.

“They’re quite willing to talk to me and interact with me,” said the SRO. Looking at his numbers from the previous school year, 90 files, from 183 school days and seven schools, the SRO said he feels that’s very acceptable.

Trustee Ken Checkel said he is impressed with the constable’s efforts. “Thanks for doing that,” said Checkel.

McNickle responded, “I’m glad to be here. I’m really enjoying Stettler.”

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