COLUMN: Helping build bright futures for youth

School liaison officers are an important aspect of policing.

The month of June always brings with it an amazing energy as the school year wraps up and our youth are buzzing about their plans for the summer.

The graduating class of 2013 is finishing provincial exams and dreaming about what’s next; they may be nervous about college or university, moving away from home, starting a new job, and embarking on a path on which they will make their own decisions.

It is a critical time when our youth grow into adulthood. We are no longer able to control – or at least guide – most of the decisions they will make. Parents, teachers, coaches and mentors have helped them build the tools they need for life and we have to trust them to make their own choices.

The Delta Police School Liaison Program has within its core curriculum the concept of making healthy choices, handling peer pressure and being a leader within the community.

Our school liaison officers (SLOs) choose this aspect of policing because they are committed to developing our youth for the future.

Const. Sean Doolan is the SLO for Delta Senior Secondary and in his words:

“The worst case scenario for a school liaison officer is to be faced with a student losing their life or being seriously injured during the many weekends and holiday breaks throughout the year.

“I spend hours engaged in open discussions with high school students talking about risky behavior, associated to drugs, alcohol, and dangerous activities.

“We know that seat belts, bike helmets and life preservers save lives but only if they are used.  Police officers, teachers and parents will not always be there at times when tough decisions are made – especially as kids grow older.

“It is my hope and the hope of all the SLOs that through our curriculum as well as our work at building trust and respect with the students, they will have the knowledge and ability to make the right choices.”

Const. Doolan also focuses on leadership in his schools:

“I remember sitting down for lunch with Chief Cessford in the fall of 2003. I was a new Constable to Delta Police. He explained ‘you can manage corporate polices, plans and procedures…but you can’t manage people. You must lead people.’ This leadership philosophy is instilled in all our constables. In turn, we strive to encourage all our students at all ages to be leaders in their lives and into their futures.”

I am proud of the work of Const. Doolan and his four colleagues throughout the Delta School District who work every day to help our youth build bright futures.

The foundation for a meaningful life is based on making healthy choices, considering consequences and acting with integrity.

The graduates of 2013 are our future leaders and they are our most important resource. On behalf of all our staff at Delta Police Department, I wish you the very best for a happy and successful future.

Jim Cessford is the chief constable of the Delta Police Department and writes regularly for The Leader.

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