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Maple Ridge kids get a closer look at police

Fun event fosters positive relations
Sgt. Rob Tam

Forty children, five to 14 years old, waited on the steps of the Arts Centre Theatre in downtown Maple Ridge Wednesday morning, stomping their feet, clapping their hands and snapping their fingers in an effort to hold off the rain.

They had gathered to watch the Air 1 police helicopter land in front of the centre.

But the chopper was delayed and the dark clouds were beginning to leak.

“They’ve been really excited about this,” said Jen Baillie, youth services children’s programmer at the youth centre.

Baillie organized the event: kids from three local day camps embarked on an emergency services scavenger hunt in the morning, taking a break to watch the landing.

The purpose of the hunt was to foster a sense of community, letting the campers positively interact with RCMP officers.

“We want to try and create positive contacts with the kids so they know who we are, what we do, and that we’re here to help,” said Cnst. Oliver Broermann, a youth resource officer.

The children embarked on the two-hour hunt, climbing into vehicles such as a fire truck, a police car, and a tactical assault vehicle, while searching for clues. RCMP officers also handed out yellow badges with their names on them.

“We want to start this community feel early and let them form a different relationship with the officers,” said Andrew Senay, one of the camp leaders.

Officers and campers played games while they waited for the helicopter. But then an awe-inspired silence fell over the group as the first rumblings of the helicopter were heard.

“There it is,” said Kyla Inkster, 3. “Wow.”

The propellers turned off. Pilot Roger Thomson and officer Sean Hackman exited the aircraft. After a brief pause, the children rushed forward for a better look.

Cpl. Alanna Dunlop and officer Steve Terrillion helped Baillie organize the event, bringing in the vehicles. After the appearance of the helicopter, the kids carried on with their scavenger hunt.