The District of West Kelowna isn’t regretting its decision to hire a full-time RCMP school resource officer.
Const. Sherri Lund recently reported to council about some of her experiences following her first full academic year as school resource officer for West Kelowna and Peachland schools.
In her first year, Lund was involved in 78 school-related police files, including six criminal investigations resulting in charge requests including assault, sexual interference, sexual assault, theft, possession of stolen property and arson.
Lund issued seven bylaw offence notices for drug paraphernalia and fighting, assisted members in missing persons files by speaking with students and participated in one critical incident response.
The school resource officer also provided the SOAR program, which focuses on substance misuse prevention, to three elementary schools, ran the Lunching with the Law program for all elementary schools, patrolled school zones during peak hours and provided talks on a variety of topics at all schools in the area.
The school liaison officer position was created by the district after Mount Boucherie students articulated the need for an RCMP presence in a 2011 presentation to council.
“Council went through quite a process of putting this position in place. We were encouraged to do it by a number of folks,” said Mayor Doug Findlater.
“I’m really glad we did; it’s turned out to be a very positive thing…way beyond expectations.”
Lund said the majority of her time was spent at Mount Boucherie Senior Secondary, dealing with some of the issues facing high school students.
The school resource officer explained to council that one of the biggest issues she continues to deal with is regularly occurring bush parties, which often result in criminal investigations of assault and impaired driving.
“We’ve noticed most of (the parties) are in the Trepanier and Shannon Lake areas,” said Lund, adding residents are encouraged to call West Kelowna RCMP if they see youth partying in the bush.
Another concern of Lund’s is ongoing bullying and cyber bullying complaints.
“It’s quite a huge problem, something I spend a lot of my time on.
“It’s slow to get to us for information, students are scared to come forward.”
Lund has attempted to improve the situation by educating younger students about cyber bullying and telling parents to be aware of their children’s online presence.
Coun. Rick de Jong, whose son attends Mount Boucherie, thanked Lund for her work and said he has noticed “a different atmosphere” at the high school since she came on board.