Cst. Michelle Harrison
The department’s School Liaison Program has been in place for over 15 years. The School Liaison/Resource Officers are a resource for the staff, students, and parents to assist in addressing any police, and often non police, related issues. The goals of the program are:
Designated School Liaison Officers are assigned to each school. The Liaison Officers are Platoon officers who are assigned to General Duties, with the School Liaison Program being just one of their responsibilities. In 2009 the Department received a provincially funded position for a School Resource/Youth Court Officer. The School Resource Officer position is dedicated to working with youth at the Schools and those who are involved in the Courts and is in addition to the Liaison Officers.
The Resource and Liaison officers in consultation with staff, students and parents provide assistance to address any issues of concern and provide various programs to the school.
With the student body being well over 1700, having these members assigned to these schools is beneficial as it provides a regular presence within the schools. The officers conduct regular foot patrols at the schools to interact with students and staff. Through this interaction staff, students and police become more familiar and comfortable with one another, building trusting and positive relationships between police and youth. A positive relationship between police, staff, students and parents helps to create effective communication between all parties. Effective communication between all stakeholders is necessary for the program to be successful.
The majority of the investigations of incidents that occur at or are related to the school are completed by one of the officers. Familiarity with any history leading up to the incident, and with parties involved is an asset to the officers assigned to an investigation.
The following are just some of the programs and presentations the officers invovled in the School Liaison Program were involved in during the past year.
This program is to identify, and provide early intervention for, "at-risk" youth. At risk youth include students who have displayed school attendance issues, behavioral/discipline issues, and/or school engagement issues. The Schools Plus Program is coordinated by Department of Education. The Amherst Police Department is one of several partner agencies which ensure the necessary resources are available to the students and their families.
Impaired Driving - EBC and ARHS: Provides information on the impaired driving laws, and demonstration of the tools used by the police in the enforcement of these laws.
Drug Awareness - EBC and ARHS: Presented to youth and parents. Information on various types of drugs, availability, indicators of use, health issues, local resources for parents and youth seeking help.
Bullying -Elementary and EBC: Teaches students how to report bullying, how to avoid bullying, how not to be a victim, what to do if you see bullying, identifies what bullying is and what a make a person a bully, and how it impacts the victim.
Bicycle Rodeo -Elementary: A bicycle rodeo is held at each elementary school. Includes Bicycle safety presentation and students participate in a bicycle driving course which tests their skills and knowledge of how to operate a bicyle. Each participant’s bicycle is inspected. Two new bicycles, bicycle helmets and other bicycle equipment are donated as prizes to each school by local sponsors.
Parent Alert Program - Parents: Presentations to parents on the following topics