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Former St. Albert officer receives provincial award

A former St. Albert RCMP officer has been recognized as youth officer of the year. Const. Dave Henry was recognized at an awards ceremony in Edmonton on Monday for his work as a school resource officer in St. Albert.

A former St. Albert RCMP officer has been recognized as youth officer of the year.

Const. Dave Henry was recognized at an awards ceremony in Edmonton on Monday for his work as a school resource officer in St. Albert. He will be declared the youth officer of the year at the Alberta Association of School Resource Officers conference this week.

Henry was the school resource officer from Sept. 2008 until July of this year at Paul Kane High School and Bellerose Composite High. He was then transferred to Airdrie and now works in the schools there.

Two students from Bellerose, along with principal George Mentz, were on hand at the award dinner Monday to present him with the award, which is meant to recognize specifically how an officer interacts with the youth of a community and affects their culture.

Henry said he was completely caught off guard when members of the association called him to tell him he was being honoured.

Henry was recognized for his interaction with students at both schools through his Facebook page, text messaging and lots of informal chats in school hallways.

He said that since moving to Airdrie he has been trying to build the same sort of relationship with students there, but it has been a challenge.

“It has been a whole new ball game.”

The schools there have not had a school resource officer in any capacity before and Henry said that made students nervous originally because they didn’t know if he was going to charge them or ticket them at every opportunity.

The relationships he built in St. Albert he said were built up over time. He said he has had to start over with the students in Airdrie.

When he was at the two high schools in St. Albert he often went on school trips and joined the school band in order to interact with students on a more personal level.

He said students in Airdrie are just starting to get to know him, which is an important part of building a connection they can trust.

“They have to know who you are to understand you and to trust you.”

During his time at Bellerose and Paul Kane the text messages he received from students would often let him intervene in conflicts before they became fights. In a few cases he also made arrests and seizures in drug cases.

St. Albert RCMP Insp. Warren Dosko said he was pleased to see Henry receive the award. He said the fact he is in Airdrie now instead of St. Albert is just part of the nature of the RCMP.

“Clearly our loss is somebody else’s gain.”

Dosko said he hasn’t told the other school resource officers to do everything the way Henry did, but he has encouraged them to approach students openly and really engage with them.

“They each bring their own unique style and passion and we tell them to use that passion.”

He said that Henry had an exceptional ability to connect with students, which is what made him such a success in the position.

“I think the thing that really stood out was that he really connected with the kids,” he said. “He really got into the world.”

Dosko said the 40 asset program that the RCMP and the city have embraced puts a huge weight on making sure kids have a healthy relationship with an adult and that includes positive relationships not just with the school resource officers, but all of the members in the detachment.

Henry said part of the challenge he faced in leaving St. Albert was that he was leaving those connections behind.

“It was hard to leave St. Albert because I had such good relationships with the parents, teachers and students.”