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Police/youth relations are vital

Police officers often do not get a fair shake in the public.

Police officers often do not get a fair shake in the public.

It doesn't take very long on social media to find multiple posts from people complaining about traffoic enforcement techniques, or pointing out incidents when officers are under investigation. The former is a bit self-righteous when they can be avoided by simply following the simple rules of the road. The latter ignores the tens of thousands of officers who put on a uniform every day and put their lives at risk to protect ours.

When disparagement of the police is frequent and unwarranted, which the poisonous discourse of social media has made commonplace, it is more than frustrated keyboard warriors venting, it works to erode the respect of our enforcement institutions.

That's not to say policing is above reproach, but it must be measured and warranted now that criticisms have such broad public reach especially considering our youth are so connected online.

For decades, the RCMP and other police departments have worked hard to build relationships with community youth. Through school liaison programs and other outreach and at risk initiatives, officers try to demonstrate that our men and women in uniform are people they can trust.

This is not a cheesy public relations stunt, these programs work to prevent crime in two very important ways.

Firstly, having a positive law enforcement role model readily available to young people provides a safe place for them to turn if they are in trouble, increasing the likelihood of a young person reporting a crime they might have been too afraid to tell a teacher or a parent.

Secondly, such programs help youth, especially those at risk, make better choices that will hopefully keep them from becoming a statistic in the system.

Unfortunately, adults who have fallen for the allure of anonymity or disconnection from reality offered by social media are working against those important goals. Apparently, hiding behind a keyboard to rant about the speeding ticket they deserved is more important than a moment of rational forward thinking.

So next time you decide to log on and rant about the police make sure it is justified and not just a frustrated diatribe joining the chorus of those taking advantage of social media to absolve themselves of their own personal responsibility.

Until people once again learn civility, we tip our hats to officers such as Cst. Nathan Moore of the Cochrane RCMP who work diligently every day to build valuable relationships with our youth.