So… what exactly would you say you do here? I’ve noticed that this is the most common question people ask me since I took on the role as the new community/school resource officer here in Innisfail.
I can summarize my role in three different categories: law enforcement, education/crime prevention and relationship building.
The truth is, sadly, our kids are one of the most vulnerable groups of people in our society and it requires a certain degree of enforcement to ensure their safety. In the past six months I have investigated well over 25 incidents which have originated within our schools. Incidents where our young children are being abused or neglected. Incidents were our kids are unwittingly victimizing themselves. And, sometimes our kids aren’t the victims but rather the aggressors who require a firm hand to understand the consequences of their poor choices. I have been involved in numerous incidents from minor bullying to sexual assaults, child pornography to drug dealing.
Education and crime prevention are also key roles that I fill at the schools. I believe that it is my job to be a role model and give our kids some strategies to protect themselves in their futures. In this light I have been privileged to have been able to teach over 225 students the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program this year. I supplement those DARE classes by speaking with kids about other issues they face on a daily basis such as online safety, their rights, and being good, responsible citizens. The Innisfail campus is also a building which houses over 1,000 of our most precious people and so it can be a huge target for predators who may wish to do the unthinkable.
This requires a police officer who intimately knows the layout of the school, the people and the strategies used to keep our kids safe.
Further to that, having this size of campus requires a police officer who has training to assess some of the higher risk students to determine the level of risk they may pose to themselves or others.
And finally my job involves relationship building. By getting to know the students in our community and sharing a little bit about myself, I can break down some of the misconceptions they have about the police. I no longer become an uncaring automaton in a uniform, but rather a friend, hockey coach and confidant.
They start to see the police as people who genuinely care about them and the community and are therefore more likely to trust us with their concerns which leads to a safer future.
Thank you for the privilege of working with your kids.
Const. Craig Nelson is the Innisfail community/school resource officer.