Constable Robert Hynes is a School Resource Officer for Barrhead area schools and you might assume his job is pretty straightforward — keep an eye on students, enforce the law and deal with illegal acts and criminal charges. But there’s so much more to this story — here are some of the things he does to make a difference in our schools and communities.
Constable Hynes teaches the DARE program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) to all grade 6 students in the schools he serves. He teaches students decision-making skills to help them lead safe and healthy lives. Upon request by teachers and principals, he speaks to students of all ages about bullying, social media targeting, drug abuse, conflict resolution, the youth criminal justice act, sexual assault, and much more. He speaks to parent and staff groups about online safety, drugs and alcohol abuse prevention and other topics of interest.
He helps resolve issues
Principals, teachers and parents can call on him if a situation at school is escalating. He brings an external perspective to those conversations and can help diffuse the issue before it gets worse.
He handles situations with “kid gloves”
Having to lay charges or arrest a student at school requires careful handling. Constable Hynes handles these situations as gently as possible — with “kid gloves” — always showing respect for the student no matter what the charge is. He says, “We want kids to know that police officers are people, not robots. I’m human, I have a life, a family; I play sports, watch movies, just like them and that goes a long way in building trust.” Sometimes a student he has arrested in the past will come back to him with a problem and ask for help. That says a lot about the respect students have for him.
He helps prepare for emergencies
During lockdown drills, Constable Hynes helps make the drill as real as possible; everything from banging on doors, testing systems, and offering advice as to where to hide or what to do. The result — our staff and students are better prepared to respond to threats.
He builds trust and makes schools safer
A watchful eye on the school grounds and in the hallways can be reassuring for students. Students making the transition to a new school can find it difficult, and Constable Hynes is sometimes the person they turn to for a high five and encouragement. He says, “I’m not a certified psychologist but I can be there for the the kids who need someone to talk to.”
He saves lives
The Mental Health Act (MHA) is usually enforced by RCMP when they receive information that a person may be suicidal and has relayed that message to someone. “Police have more powers under the MHA than parents or teachers. Parents can bring their loved one to the hospital for a mental health examination but that usually only happens when the youth is cooperative. When we intervene they are arrested and then transported to the hospital. They have no choice. They are only placed under arrest but they are not charged with an offence,” said Hynes. This can mean the difference between life and death.
“The greatest benefit to being in schools is connecting with students and building relationships. This can really impact the way they view and interact with police officers throughout their lives,” said Hynes. “I’m here to help students and staff – this program is a success. It also saves the local RCMP detachment tons of time.”
Oh and did we mention that he can sing and dance? Check out these “dancing mountie” clips.
Acting Superintendent David Garbutt said, “Constable Hynes brings a unique perspective and a wealth of knowledge and experience to our schools, making them safer and more vibrant. We truly value his work as a school resource officer and the difference that he makes in the lives of students.”
Our school board is committed to securing a School Resource Officer in our Westlock area schools, and is actively seeking partners — from either the public or private sector, or not-for-profit organizations — to help fund the three-year pilot program. For more information or to see how you can invest in this crucial project, contact Trustee Jan Hoffart at 780.349.5353 or Acting Superintendent David Garbutt at 780.674.8507.