Cops in Catholic schools paying big dividends

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It not only allows police officers and young people to talk in a casual atmosphere, it affects the resource officers themselves.

“They are better cops when they come out of it,” McGuire told Niagara Catholic District School Board Tuesday night.

There are six Niagara Regional Police officers working in schools. They are contacts for the police service, students, staff and parents. A couple of officers have even coached high school teams.

McGuire said the program aids both police work and community relations.

“I have seen it make a difference.”

The police officers volunteer to work with young people, the chief said.

“They are not just assigned to the job.”

Const. David Thiessen, a school resource officer since the program began, said it allows young people to talk with police in an unofficial setting. They get to know officers as people.

“Lots of positive things happen,” he said. “You look forward to going to work every day. You see problems solved and resolved.”

Const. David Marynuik, a school resource officer for St. Catharines, said in his 28 years in policing he has not seen a more beneficial program.

“It is not just what happens today in schools, but what the kids do in the future.”

The NRP has signed a revised protocol with the Catholic school board to reflect Ministry of Education updates to its provincial model for the program.

Education superintendent Lee Ann Forsyth-Sells said the revisions include: bomb threat and lockdown procedures; school and police roles in violence-prevention strategies; and, threat awareness and management services.

Niagara Catholic students, she said, have benefitted from three programs in which school resource officers organized and participated: Students Rock, a guitar competition; Camp Medeba leadership training; and Inter-board Film Fest, to create public service videos.

Education director John Crocco called the school resource officer program a strong partnership that allows officers to become part of the daily lives of students. It is well worth the financial support the board gives it.

St. Catharines Trustee Maurice Charbonneau, a retired high school principal, said he spent a lot of time trying to get the program off the ground and faced a lot of resistance.

Now, he said, having officers in the school is paying big dividends for students and the community.

Credits and Source: By Wayne Campbell, February 1, 2017. St. Catharines Standard: http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/02/01/cops-in-catholic-schools-paying-big-dividends.

Photo Credits: From left are: school resource officers Const. David Marynuik and Const. David Thiessen, Chief Jeff McGuire, education director John Crocco, board chair Rev. Paul MacNeil, and education superintendent Lee Ann Forsyth-Sells. (Wayne Campbell/Special to Postmedia Network)