INTERVIEW WITH school liaison officers
Written by Judy Hyojoo Rhee
A photo of Cst. Cheung
This September, thanks to the efforts of the school, community, and the RCMP that continued throughout the previous year, University Hill Secondary welcomed our two new School Liaison Officers.
The Principal of University Hill, Mr. McGeer, expressed his thoughts on the officers' return:
“We are delighted to have our RCMP Officers reinstated at Uhill. They play such an important role in making our community safe and in working with young people to build positive relationships. I would like to thank all of our community members who worked together to help lobby for the return of the SLO position. It is truly appreciated!”
To introduce the SLOs to the UNA community, I interviewed the officers, Constable Adrienne Cheung and Constable Ian Sim, and asked several questions regarding their work.
Could you introduce yourselves to everyone at UHill and residents of the UNA community?
Cst. Cheung: I am constable Adrienne Cheung! I went to school at Simon Fraser University, and have been on the University detachment for six months. I was asked if I wanted to take on the role of an SLO. When I said yes, I was assigned to UHill Secondary. I enjoy sports such as basketball, tennis, as well as camping and hiking--BC is perfect for that!
Cst. Sim: My name is Ian Sim. I joined the RCMP in 1999 and graduated from "Depot" (in Regina, Saskatchewan) in 2000. My first posting was in North Vancouver, where I grew up and still live to this day. Getting posted to one's hometown is quite rare, so I was very fortunate. I worked four years in General Duty (also called "Patrol"). GD/patrol are the uniformed officers in police cars you see driving around your neighbourhoods. For my last three years in North Van I was on mountain bike patrol (awesome !). After seven years in North Van I moved to federal policing with a plain-clothes (mistakenly called, "undercover") section at Vancouver airport. I worked at the airport for three years, hunting for travelling criminals like money couriers, drug couriers, human traffickers, etc. I then moved on to Vancouver Drug Section (known as VDS). I finished with Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC). After eight years of federal policing, I wanted to return to uniform work, back to Patrol. I chose UBC, and here I am. It was one of the best choices I have ever made.
I always wanted to be a police officer, and I was lucky enough for that to happen. I wanted to live my life armed (with a gun) so policing was an obvious choice. I was raised by good parents who had a belief system of fair play. I am a huge believer in the rule of law, which is one of the main reasons why Canada is one of the best countries in the world (Canada Rocks !). Personal safety is also a big interest of mine, as are human rights (as in the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms, also called the "Charter"). My values just fit in with the above.
For those who don’t know, could you explain the role of a SLO?
Cst. Cheung: I have only been a SLO for three weeks, but this who I believe a School Liaison Officer is--a SLO provides a connection between students and administrative staff and teachers while having an open communication. Students will be talking to an officer he or she knows as opposed to speaking to someone they have never met before. Officers also have the chance to get to know students and the community.
Cst. Sim: A SLO’s primary mandate is to look out for the schools and the students. SLOs become part of your community, which is your school, just as I try to be a part of my community, which is the University Endowment Lands. I like getting out of my car and doing foot and mountain bike patrols. School Liaison Officers have a specific focus on schools, whereas GD patrols their whole community, of which schools are a part. I am both on General Duty as well as a School Liaison Officer.
What are some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your work?
Cst. Cheung: The rewarding aspect is that I get to know and help members of the community. The challenging aspect would be that when people call you, they are often in an emergency situation or upset, so it’s not always a pleasant situation to find yourself in.
Cst. Sim: The most satisfying thing about policing is meeting people.I get to meet new people every day, from all over the world. You get to find out where they’re from, who they are, what they want to be when they grow up. You get to laugh with them, and you get to build relationships. At the end of the day, that’s what life’s about, building positive relationships.
There are always challenges in policing. For example, five minutes from now I could get called to a different file, and you never know what that file is going to be. Most people can predict roughly how their day is going to go. I can’t. But I like that. I never know exactly what is going to happen five minutes from now. Part of the challenge is that you have to remain flexible, open-minded and ready for anything.
What do you expect/hope to see this year as a SLO at UHill Secondary?
Cst. Cheung: I hope to see a good relationship between the students and their SLOs.
Cst. Sim: I would like to see the students here at U Hill continue to make smart/positive choices in their lives, taking care of themselves, and those around them. Thankfully U Hill students seem to be doing a pretty good job of that (excellent work !). It appears that when students do have a problem (which is totally normal) they are talking it through with a trusted adult (parent, counselor, coach, teacher, mentor, etc).
Rhee: So, communication is very important.
Cst. Sim: Communication is the answer ! So many problems occur because of miscommunication or lack of communication. When you work at building your communication skills (and EVERYONE can do this) life just gets easier and more fun, plain and simple.
Do you have a message that you would like to share with UHill students or community residents?
Cst. Cheung: Say hello to us outside of school as well as when you see us at school!
Cst. Sim: Take care of yourself and look out for each other. If you can do that within arms reach then life is going to be much more enjoyable. Yes, there will always be problems/challenges to test us, that's completely normal. The trick is to ask for help. No one can do it all on their own (and I mean, no one). In the policing community we have partners and a team to lean on, and we do, all the time. Otherwise we couldn't do what we do day in and day out.
When people are in a bad spot or under stress, they sometimes feel that they are all alone. Not true, not by a long shot. You are never alone. Someone in your school (student, teacher/counsellor/coach) is (or has) experienced what you are experiencing, and more importantly, knows how to get through it. Communicate...
**This article is published in the 2018 November edition of the newspaper Campus Resident.