PANS-07

POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 51 TRURO — There’s a new face at Nova Scotia’s largest high school and she carries a badge and a gun. Const. Karen DeGroot is the first school resource officer for the Truro Police Service and Cobequid· Educational Centre. “I think initially the students were kind of shocked to see a police officer there,” DeGroot said in a recent interview. “But I think ... they’re becoming accustomed to seeing me walking around the halls.” The 10- year veteran of the force is not at the school because criminal activity is running rampant. “We have over 1,600 students in this school,” said principal Rosalie Stewart-Fisher. “The majority of our students are law-abiding citizens that are here for an education. Academics come first and they see her as just part of the staff.” Deputy chief Dave MacNeil said it is a proactive approach to policing. “We’re there to enhance the safety and security and to have a positive learning environment for the kids,” he said. Stewart-Fisher is pleased with how well the program has gone. “I give the Truro Police Service full credit for picking an officer who is student-centred and someone that gets along well with the students,” she said. “We see Karen as a very positive role model.” MacNeil and Stewart-Fisher had spoken last year about such a partnership before funding from the provincial government was made available through the safer communities initiative. A request was submitted to the Department of Justice and approved. When the position was posted, De-Groot jumped. “I really think, for me, it was the challenge,” she said. “It was going to be something totally different for me from being on patrol.” DeGroot will assist with Class presentations such as law and journalism, is on the student advisory council and safe grad committee and will help foster relations with the student body by providing an open door policy. But she is still a police officer, a responsibility she takes seriously. “I have to enforce the law if I see a criminal offence,” DeGroot said. Students have asked her if she felt it was necessary to carry a gun in school. “This is part of my uniform. Part of being a police officer is I have a gun,” she said. “It’s not situational. It’s who I am as a police officer.” By The Canadian Press Truro School Adds Cop to Staff Const. Karen DeGroot is the first school resource officer at Cobequid Education centre in Truro, the provinceʼs largest school. (CP) As originally published The Chronicle Herald, October 6, 2007

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