Building positive relationships between students and police

by | May 28, 2024

Woodstock Police Force and Anglophone West School District renew agreement with new MOU

Someone walking through the halls of any of Woodstock’s three schools may see students greeting a uniformed police officer with smiles, high fives and a friendly, “Hi Cst. Shaun.” 

Cst. Shaun is Cst. Shaun Kimball is the Woodstock Police Force’s community liaison officer and a familiar face to Woodstock students. 

A recently renewed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the police force and the Anglophone West School District sees the district pay 75 per cent of the officer’s salary as Kimball strengthens the relationship between police and the community’s children and youth. 

Kimball explained his relationship with Woodstock High School and the K-to-Grade-8 schools of Townsview and Meduxnekeag Consolidated schools began three or four years ago and has grown exponentially over the years. 

He said the relationship changed over the years, noting that students who were skittish at first soon saw him as a friend. He said high fives are a standard greeting now. 

WPF Deputy Chief Mark Bennett announced the signing of the MOU during a council-in-committee meeting on May 14. He stressed the agreement’s importance and Kimball’s role’s value. 

“The significance of this role cannot be overstated,” said Bennett. “Community relations officers play a crucial role in cultivating strong relationships with children, youth and students.” 

He said the program increases safety and awareness and builds on the relationship between students and police. 

Bennett described Kimball as an “expert” in this type of program. He said he witnessed Kimball interacting with students, noting the close and positive bonds they built together.

“He’s just so good with them,” said Bennett, who attended the May 14 council meeting with Kimball and Chief Gary Forward. “They trust him.”

The deputy chief said Kimball’s efforts cultivate relationships that could help the child or teen later in life. 

He invited Kimball to address council members. 

Kimball explained that the MOU helps students develop a positive view of a police uniform. He said students who may face difficult times in their private lives, such as being caught in the middle of domestic disputes, accidents, or other emergencies, recognize a uniformed officer as someone who’s there to help them. 

Anglophone West School District Superintendent David McTimoney said the MOU works well for everyone. 

He and Shawn Tracey, the district’s Director of Finance and Administration, met Kimball in front of the district’s Woodstock Education Centre to mutually welcome the agreement. 

“We as a school district certainly value the community partnership we’ve come to enjoy with the town of Woodstock and the Woodstock Police Force,” said McTimoney. 

He explained that the agreement is making a difference, not only with the program but also through the relationships that Cst Kimball is building with the students. 

Tracey said the agreement helps within the school setting and throughout the broader community. 

Kimball said the bonds he developed with students in the school setting expanded into the community. 

He said his roles as a baseball and soccer coach and with other youth organizations and events helped expand and strengthen the relationships. 

Kimball also plays a central role in the Woodstock Police Force’s support for the Western Valley Region Special Olympics program and is a member of the provincial Law Enforcement Torch Relay.  

The Woodstock police officer also praised groups like Planet Youth, a provincial government organization operating a pilot project in the Woodstock area. Planet Youth is based on the Icelandic Prevention Model, which has proven effective in reducing substance use among Icelandic youth for over twenty years. 

Kimball recently participated in a Planet Youth event in Woodstock. 

Woodstock Mayor Trina Jones praised the Woodstock Police Force for its proactive efforts to build a strong relationship with the community it serves. She said she, too, witnessed Kimball in action with students, children and youth. 

“I’m so glad you’re continuing this,” she said. 

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