A program involving the Prairieland Regional School Division and the local RCMP aims to create a relationship between police and students.
"It was actually started by Project REACH and the Hanna Learning Centre and they brought us into it," explained Corporal Trent Sperlie, acting detachment commander in Hanna. "There's scheduled days and the members will go out to the school and have lunch with the kids and then they'll sit down and just interact with them, they'll talk to them and answer questions."
"It's building that bridge between the police and the youth," he elaborated. "Police can sometimes be an intimidating figure for the youth to approach; we want to get rid of that stigma and make it so that the police are somebody the kids can trust and they know they can come talk to openly and frankly."
Project REACH is a collaboration between Alberta Health Services and Alberta Education for mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention programs in school.
"We don't want the typical 'if you're bad we're going to call the police,' we don't want that stigma on the police with the youth," argued Sperlie. "That deters the youth from coming to us when they want help, so we definitely want those lines of communication open."
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