Town of Okotoks Municipal Enforcement has developed a new program that will see peace officers increase their positive presence in local schools.

The Adopt-a-School Program was officially launched on April 1 and Peace Officer Andy Wiebe says one officer has been assigned to every two schools in town. The idea is to build relationships between local students and peace officers and Wiebe says his hope is that all students will eventually know the officer assigned to their school by name.

One of the initiatives that's going to be launched in the near future will see elementary students using a laser and their math skills to do some calculations in their school zone. Wiebe says he'll supervise the project, but it will be the students who will use the laser and gather all the data. Then, they'll go back to the classroom to do the math on the results.

"We're going in to talk to the Grade 6 class and using math we're going to go measure the length of the school zone and then do the math on how long it takes you to get through the school zone at 30 kilometres an hour, 40 kilometres an hour or 50 kilometres an hour," Wiebe explains. "So just trying to do an impact that way. And then we're going to go to the Grade 2 class and talk to them about maybe doing up some posters saying, 'Don't speed in my school zone, please'."

He says the program is flexible and has been designed to be adapted to the needs identified by each school and its students.  Wiebe says they're hoping to continue their efforts to reach new drivers at the senior high level by reminding them about the rules of the road.

"I've spoken a lot with students about driving and there's so much that they don't know when it comes to legislation about distracted driving," he explains. "The actual fine amounts and the demerits and the fact that they're a GDL driver and once you get eight demerits you have a suspension and the consequences of that, and the insurance, which may go onto their parents' insurance. It's a very real danger and it's a real privilege to actually be on the road."

There won't be a set schedule for officers to make school visits, he explains. Rather, officers will plan to make themselves available for specific initiatives based on needs and interests identified by the individual schools.

Wiebe says the response from the schools has been very positive and current plans are to continue the Adopt-a-School Program in Okotoks for years to come.

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