The back-to-school season is a busy one. As you and your children begin to settle into your new and sometimes stressful routines, experiencing information overload is not uncommon. I want to remind you that the Calgary Police Service has dedicated resources available to you and your children through our School Resource Officers (SROs) and the Start Smart Stay Safe (S4) program.
Our SROs are split into three teams: one each for high school, junior high school, and elementary school. Officers work collaboratively with school staff and students to provide mentorship, resources, and assistance in dealing with a variety of issues including bullying, peer pressure and unhealthy influences, making good decisions, and community safety.
The S4 program is specific to elementary schools and is a collaborative approach to help children create positive relationships with police officers and build overall safer communities. We know that strong relationships between police agencies and the community will build trust and cooperation in the community and, ultimately, reduce crime. If we can build these relationships early on and teach children that police officers are trusted adults and helpers in the community, then we are ahead of the game.
Our partners in the S4 initiative are the Calgary Board of Education, the Calgary Catholic School District and Mount Royal University.
One of our S4 officers, Cst. Gary Hartmann, has been working as an SRO for two years. Coming from nine years on the street, Cst. Hartmann wanted to work with schools to continue to be a positive influence in the lives of children and their families. It is difficult to put a value on the relationship that Cst. Hartmann has built with the students and staff he’s worked with over the years.
Each SRO has been involved in countless success stories - whether it be helping kids navigate through tough situations, addressing bullying issues, resolving conflicts, or simply being approached as a trusted adult. In each case, we are helping to build more resilient children and safer communities.
Each S4 officer works with approximately 20 to 25 schools and has routine interactions with your children (Cst. Hartmann works primarily in southwest Calgary). It’s important you let your children know that they can approach our officers for any reason, and that they, too, are members of our community. Our SRO team is always working to be more accessible to your children and have access to a variety of resources and other Calgary Police Service programs.
I’d encourage you and your children to get to know your assigned SRO, and reach out if you need more resources. For more information, to find out who your child’s SRO is, or to download family resources, visit startsmartstaysafe.ca.
Roger Chaffin is the Chief of Police for the Calgary Police Service.
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