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HALLWAY PATROLS IN EDMONTON SCHOOLs


July 11, 2013
By Abby Kokolski

413 words – MR

Hallway patrol impacting Edmonton youth

by Abby Kokolski

High fives, huge smiles and admiring glances. These aren’t reactions police officers are accustomed to in their everyday work.

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It is, however, how officers are welcomed when they visit local schools as part of the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) Hallway Patrol program.

The EPS partnered with both the public and Catholic school boards for the pilot project.

“The project seeks to build closer ties with frontline police officers and the students, families and staff at local elementary and junior high schools,” says EPS chief Rod Knecht. “It’s an informal project to raise our presence and profile in schools.”

Most patrol work is reactive, answering calls for service and going from one complaint to the next. The project allows officers to be proactive in the communities they serve.

“It allows us to be proactive and reach out to kids at a very impressionable age,” says Cst. Travis Peever, who tries to visit two schools once or twice a week. “We hope this extends past the school walls. We want kids to go home and talk about their positive interactions with police.”

Since schools are the hubs of any community, there are many benefits to the visits, including increased trust with students and police familiarity with schools, students and staff.

“We really hope our students see officers as trusting people they can go to,” says Amy Cooper, assistant principal at St. Elizabeth Elementary School in Southeast Edmonton. “We want them to realize police officers are another safe adult in their lives.”

The officer visits aren’t scheduled and they drop in when they have the time. The visit can be as simple as saying hello to the principal and walking through the hallways or visiting at lunch or recess time to talk to the students.

Both school boards chose three elementary or junior high schools to be a part of the pilot project, which ran from April until the end of the 2013 school year. It will be assessed to determine whether it should roll out to more schools in September.

The EPS has had a presence in Edmonton schools since 1979 with the school resource officer program, which includes 19 police officers working out of 22 Edmonton high schools. They work directly in an assigned school to open lines of communication, speak at school assemblies and work with negative student behaviour.