Grade 6 students take part in Windsor Police Service VIP Demonstration Day
By Justin Prince
Note: This story was originally published on OurWindsor.ca.
On a normal day, hundreds of cadets for the Windsor Police Service and members of the Canadian Armed Services go through the front doors of the Major F.A. Tilston Armoury and Police Training Centre. In some cases, they are at the 12-year-old facility for military-related tasks, while others are training to become officers for the WPS.
Today, a third and completely different set of people entered the building – elementary school students from across Windsor-Essex County. Within seconds of arrival, the 11 and 12-year-olds were quickly escorted off of their yellow and black school buses by the WPS cadets, marching single-file into the tan-coloured facility.
The more than 500 Grade 6 students then took their seats inside the main gym, placed row by row on the tile floor, to wait for the start of this year’s Values, Influences and Peers Demonstration Day.
“It’s a great way for young students to interact with police outside the classroom,” said Sgt. Wren Dosant, who is part of the VIP program. “It showcases the talent and the brainpower of the WPS.”
This week, just less than 1,800 students from across the region will be getting the chance to tour the training facility as part of their graduation from the Windsor police’s VIP program. Since 1985, officers from the WPS have been teaching Grade 6 classes as a way to reinforce responsible citizenship as well as positive social behaviour and community values.
The program, which is held throughout each school year, teaches them about topics such as issues with taking drugs, the health risks involved with smoking and what alcohol does to the human body, according to Dosant. It also allows children to interact with police officers in a positive and educational manner. The demonstration day was added to the program four years ago.
“VIP is critically important to us,” said WPS chief Al Frederick to the crowd of students. “Sometimes when you go through VIP, it’s the first time you’ve ever had access or talked to a police officer … I don’t think many of you talked to a police officer before you graduated VIP. That’s how important it is.”
Throughout the two-day event, the students will be learning about a variety of different training areas and units. Some of these include the Emergency Services Unit, commonly known as the WPS SWAT team, the K9 Dog Unit and the police’s shooting range. While at each station, the students are able to gain both factual knowledge about certain topics and see demonstrations about how certain police tools or equipment work.
“Before I started VIP class, I didn’t know anything about drugs and alcohol or stuff like that,” said Prince Edward Public School student Kiano Elliott. “When I took the VIP class, I learned a lot about not only the law, but also about becoming a better student and athlete.”
Dosant explained he has seen a lot of benefits from the VIP program over the 25 years he’s been a part of it. He noted that two former students he had taught are now members of Windsor police. There are also multiple VIP program graduates who are now enrolled in programs such as Police Foundations at St. Clair College.
“If you don’t interact with your youth in your community at a young age, you’re going to have a lot of problems moving forward when they become teenagers,” said Dosant. “It’s a perfect learning age for these type of modules.”
Elliott hopes to also pass along his new knowledge to his family.
“I want to teach some of my younger siblings a little bit about VIP because it really means a lot to kids like our age,” he said. “It also means a lot to even adults and younger children.”
Windsor police will be finishing its final VIP tour sessions tomorrow.