Stettler town council hears school police officer building relationships with students
April 6, 2023 By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Apr. 6, 2023, Stettler, Alta. – Stettler town council heard that the new school police officer wants to build face to face relationships with students. The presentation was made at the March 21 regular meeting of council.
Stettler RCMP detachment commander S/Sgt. Jon England introduced Cst. Ben Witmer, who previously worked at the Bashaw detachment and now serves as the school resource officer (SRO).
Witmer noted since taking over the reigns of the SRO position he’s heard a lot of positive community feedback regarding the program. He noted the SRO program appears to be going well as he works towards building good relations with the students.
The SRO noted he favours a more direct approach that includes talking directly to the kids rather than holding classes or lecture-style events.
The SRO noted he’s also become involved in coaching at Stettler’s high school, Wm E Hay Secondary Campus.
Coun. Gord Lawlor stated he’s also heard positive feedback in the community about Witmer’s efforts at the high school.
Mayor Sean Nolls noted that when he “drops the kids off” at school in the morning it’s nice to see the RCMP officer there greeting them as they arrive.
Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky stated the SRO position plays an important role in the Settler community, as 10 per cent of the community’s population is in that school.
S/Sgt. England also gave town council an update on the local detachment’s activities and also collected some feedback on policing priorities while he had their attention.
England stated the last time Stettler RCMP detachment gathered input from town council police were asked to focus on crime prevention and community engagement.
Mayor Nolls stated community engagement will always be a priority as RCMP officers are seen as more than just police officers in Stettler.
England followed that up by noting traffic has also been a focus of the Stettler RCMP.
Mayor Nolls asked what police could do to deal with the “jake brake” problem in Stettler. Nolls stated Stettler residents continue to complain about commercial truckers using their air brakes to wake people up in the middle of the night.
The mayor added that Stettler has two major highways that snake through town, complicating matters.
Nolls stated he would like to see the jake brake problem reduced or eliminated, but wasn’t sure what could be done.
England stated one thing police might do is contact the large trucking companies and ask them to notify their drivers of the problem.
Councillors accepted the RCMP update as information.
– East Central Alberta Review
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