Pubdate: Tue, 19 Jan 2016
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2016 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Stan Ashbee
Page: A4


Coaldale schools have a new RCMP School Resource Officer (SRO).

His name is Const. Doug Sokoloski and he's all geared up since the
RCMP took over policing duties from the Lethbridge Police Service on
Jan. 1.

Previously, Sokoloski was stationed in Pincher Creek for more than
seven years. Part of his duties in the community was working within
the M.D.

"I was a community policing officer. Part of that was school resource
officer and traffic and public relations were the other few main
components. I have done that, of course, at the normal detachment
level when I was in Raymond/Magrath - schools were part of our mandate
and in Fort McMurray, as well," said Sokoloski., who has been a member
of the RCMP for more than 19 years.

"Prior to that I was fish and wildlife in Saskatchewan. Another
component of that is strong public relations."

In this position, Sokoloski added, the purpose is to be visible in the
schools and around the schools.

"Normally in the morning, I will be out and show my presence in the
school zones at all the schools. And presentations during the mornings
and afternoons and then obviously, at pick up time, I will show a
presence at the schools, as well," he said.

"Public relations will be a part of it but there will also be some
education sessions. At the elementary level it will be what we do in
the RCMP and what we do as officers. Eventually, I'd like to bring in
some of our specialty units that are around - the forensic ident guys
and the CIS guys can come in. The dog, at the elementary level, is a
big draw. Kids love the dogs."

As students graduate into middle school and high school, Sokoloski
said, there will be a different focus with each age group.

"Driving, drug prevention programs, theft of identification, Internet
security - those are all things we will hit on and will work with the
schools," he said. "It's great. I've got two kids in school in
Coaldale in Grades 1 and 3."

DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), Sokoloski noted, is a 12-week
program RCMP officers are trained to do and the program can be rolled
out in communities if there is a need.

"I am DARE trained and I've done multiple DARE courses in the past. If
that is something the schools want to do - that would be focused at a
Grade 5 level," he said, adding the program has been revamped over the
past few years to focus more on what a student can do to be a better
person in society, as well as the drugs and alcohol component. The
program can also be targeted to a few other age groups.

According to the SRO, DARE is a very good program and if the schools
want it - it is certainly something the RCMP can provide.

Sokoloski also believes the RCMP is a good fit in Coaldale.

"The RCMP is looking really forward to integrating in the community.
We make it a lifestyle and, of course, living and working here is
something we like to blend together. It's a great town. I've been here
a couple of years on and off now and the kids are in school. It's a
place I want to live in and a place I want my kids to live in."
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