The 2016-2017 academic year started off with Const. Jon McNickle stationed at the Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus, one of his primary roles being to educate and support both staff and students.
McNickle clarifies that his role is not only to “impose discipline and enforce law and order”, but to work with the school community and to educate and support.
“More than being in the schools for discipline or enforcement purposes, the main focus of my role is to provide education and support to the students and faculty,” said McNickle. “To provide students with a chance to see a police officer in a positive, more friendly, or casual light, so that they realize we are here to help them and not just “to get them” or “take them away” as I often hear adults joke to kids.”
McNickle explained that the message that they are trying to put across and promote is for youth to see the RCMP as people who are there to assist them.
McNickle has already been asked this year to give several presentations in the schools about internet safety, Halloween safety and Youth Criminal Justice Act.
“I’ll be instructing the DARE program throughout the year at the various schools, I have also been visiting classrooms and getting in on their activities/lessons,” added McNickle.
McNickle has drafted a poster, which is displayed around the Secondary School campus, listing several Provincial Offences that he feels are most likely to be broken, just for the students to reference and be aware of.
“As far as discipline/enforcement goes, this school year I haven’t yet been asked to assist with any situations as yet,” said McNickle. “That said, the typical things I might be asked to be involved in would be things like traffic offences occurring in and around the school parking lots and students caught with things they shouldn’t have, such as tobacco or alcohol, and to assist the school administrators and faculty with any situation that they see fit to involve me in.”
McNickle said that one area he intends to focus on this year, and in future would be students’ use of tobacco.
“It is an offence under Alberta’s Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act for anyone under the age of 18 simply to possess any tobacco product in a public place, it is also a separate offence for anyone under the age of 18 to use a tobacco product in public, and there is a third offence specific to use of tobacco products on school property (including parking areas), all of which carry a specified penalty,” stated McNickle. “Further to the legality of it, there are all of the significant health risks that come along with tobacco use, so I see no reason to allow our community’s youth to use tobacco, in any of its forms.”
McNickle along with his colleagues are frequently in the school zones both patrolling and running stationary radar/laser operations to monitor the speed of traffic, as well as look for other infractions, such as cell phone use and proper use of seat belts.
“And of course, following up on any complaints received from members of the public in regards to speed or other traffic violations in the school zones,” added McNickle.