Students helping to prevent crime

Zoey Duncan

They may be new to the force, but the presence of two OPP summer students on the streets of Fort Frances still will percolate throughout the community, preventing crime and providing role models for youths.
“It’s good knowing you’re making an impact on children,” said Hailey Clendenning. “[And] knowing that you’re doing a good thing for your community, and helping a lot of people and making sure that the whole town is safe.”
Clendenning and Sam Berube, both going into Grade 11 at Fort High this fall, have been on the job since June 26 when they assisted at an OPP summer camp at Sunny Cove, setting up activities and mentoring the attendees.
More recently, the pair have been cycling around town handing out “positive tickets,” along with coupons for free ice cream from the Sorting Gap Marina, to youngsters who are wearing their helmets during bike rides.
“We don’t give out any warnings, we just encourage them,” Berube noted.
“If they’re with their friend and their friend’s wearing a helmet and we give a positive ticket, they’ll see that and they’ll want one so they’ll wear be wearing their helmet [next time],” he reasoned.
The extra presence for the OPP is an absolute asset—even just a few weeks into their summer jobs, said local Cst. Anne McCoy.
“They’re out flying the colours for us,” she explained. “If we can educate and do preventative policing, then that helps us reduce the calls for service.”
Clendenning and Berube also will be performing traffic surveys this summer to check how many drivers come to a complete stop at stoplights and stop signs, and how many are using cellphones when they’re supposed to be focused on driving.
“Quite often if people see them out doing the traffic surveys . . . then that’s education in itself, public awareness,” Cst. McCoy remarked.
Meanwhile, the eight-week summer job already is providing insight into policing for Clendenning and Berube, who are both considering it as a career.
“There’s a lot of stuff you have to do,” Clendenning said. “You’ve got to be really organized and be prepared, and make sure that you’re doing everything how you should be and not making very many mistakes.
“My favourite part is learning all the new things, and being able to meet the staff and learning a lot from them,” she added.
“I like being in an environment where this could be a possible career for me,” said Berube. “I like the fact that we are influencing kids to become better at bike safety and being positive role models.”
Both have expressed a desire for mentorship from OPP staff, noted Cst. McCoy, and she is prepared to make that happen.
“I’m going to push them beyond their comfort level,” she pledged.
In addition to working directly with the community, the students will be creating public service announcements and posters, as well as updating the websites for the Rainy River District Community Policing Committee and Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (S.A.L.T.)
They also have been planning bike rodeos throughout the district, including one tomorrow in Rainy River and one here Friday at the Memorial Sports Centre.
And if you see a “lock it or lose it” sticker on your car in the coming weeks, that means the students have found you to be a little too trusting in your door-locking habits.
The program “encourages people to lock their vehicles to help prevent them from crime and victimization,” Berube explained.
“It incorporates preventing crime through public awareness.”
“[Theft] can happen anywhere,” added Clendenning.
While both are hoping their job will help them make decisions about the future, they might not have time to think about that until the summer is nearly over.
“There’s not going to be any downtime for them this year at all,” said Cst. McCoy.
“They’re going to be going non-stop.”