Work as a police officer can take you all kinds of places, but for a few officers in Saanich, it takes them into school hallways and classrooms.
Const. Dani Frohloff of the Saanich Police has been a school liaison officer for four years, serving as one of four constables who work with the district’s 48 elementary, middle and high schools. The liaisons lend a policing perspective to the day-to-day operations of local schools and work with students and teachers to better their learning environments.
“Our goal is to be a positive role model for the kids, but also to be a direct resource for the school administration on matters like drug prevention, school violence, citizenship and leadership,” said Frohloff.
“Sometimes we’re just popping in and visiting with the kids on lunch or recess. Sometimes we’re going to theatre productions to support what our kids are doing, or we’re at the city track meets for sports. It’s whatever’s going on at our schools and how we can connect with the kids and engage them in their school community.”
Liaison officers serve an all-encompassing position, with duties ranging from giving classroom safety presentations to running anti-bullying programs to advising school administrators. Frohloff said the role can vary in different levels of education as students learn about different subject matter.
“We do safety patroller training, where the Grade 5s learn how to be crossing guards and help the rest of their school community,” she said. “At the middle school level, we do presentations about internet safety, cyberbullying, citizenship and leadership, and drug awareness.
“In high school, there’s the PARTY program (Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth), which is geared for high school students. It’s a full day where they’re at the hospital – they speak to an emergency room physician, they go down to the morgue, and the policing component of that is talking about the graduated licensing program. We talk about the restrictions on their N and L licences, drinking and driving, anything that has a policing side to it.”
As technology has changed, Frohloff said the police have shifted to engage youth through social media in an effort to keep them out of the criminal justice system, part of her role as a liaison officer.
“It’s a learning curve for some of us old-timers,” she said with a laugh. “They text more than they talk now, so we need to connect with them on a level that they understand. We’re really trying to expand into things the kids can relate to.”
While it’s a lot of responsibility, Frohloff said being a liaison officer the past four years has been a lot of fun, getting to know students as they transition from elementary to middle to high school. She said it’s been an excellent experience being a part of the school community, working with educators to help teach kids from across the district.
“I’ve developed a lot of friendships with the school administrators and connections with the kids,” said Frohloff. “I know I’ll continue to see those kids in the community as I move back to patrol, and that’s exactly what it’s about.”