RCMP school liaison officer supported 

Whistler’s three schools may be in line to get a full time police school liaison officer.

RCMP Cst. Michelle Nesbitt told the Myrtle Philip Parent Advisory Committee meeting this week, "that there was a chance that a full time position is going to be created."

The PAC overwhelmingly approved the idea and voted to send a letter of support to the RCMP.

Nesbitt, who is currently the Community Policing Officer, already spends time in the schools with the DARE program and others.

"There are tons and tons of benefits of having a school liaison officer in the school," she said.

Last year two youths in elementary school confided to Nesbitt that they had suicidal thoughts. She was able to intervene and help the families get the help they needed.

Her presence also acts as a deterrent for youths thinking of doing illegal things, such as dealing drugs or committing acts of vandalism.

And it teaches youths that a police officer is someone you can trust and get help from and not just the billy club-carrying, gun-wielding law enforcer portrayed on TV or in the media.

There have been concerns raised by parents in the past over the idea of having a police liaison officer said PAC chair Cathy Jewett.

Some parents were worried about having a gun in the school while others were concerned that their kids might be arrested on the spot for doing something stupid and illegal and hauled off to jail.

The concern was that their kids might pay a heavy price for a moment of poor decision-making in an otherwise trouble-free time.

Nesbitt explained that the gun goes with the uniform.

"But I have talked about this in the DARE classes and after the first couple of days the curiosity stops," she said.

And as for kids being arrested, that would only be the case if the youth carried out a violent crime or continued with the illegal behaviour even after repeated warnings.

"We now by law have to pursue other avenues than court," said Nesbitt.

Those may include restorative justice, meeting with parents, writing letters of apology, or doing community work.

Nesbitt is not allowed to talk to youth about their alleged criminal behaviour with talking to the parents first.

If the plan goes ahead the position would be created in 2005.

But it is early days yet and all the stakeholders must be involved and on board before discussions with the municipality, which would fund the position, can take place.

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