A dozen students gather on one wall of the large gym. Some talk, some look about quietly, some pace. Filling half of the gym is a set of cones, mats and obstacles. They are here for the final test of “Boot Camp”, a program set up by our school liaison officer, so students can get sense of what it’s like to “Train Like A Cop” – the program’s other name.
The target time is four minutes to make six laps of a course made up of short sprints, sharp turns, leaps for both distance and height, rolls, pushups and sit-ups. It doesn’t look hard, but the constant shifts from one intense movement to another leave the students, who have been training twice a week for the previous 10 weeks, panting and exhausted by the end of their run. It’s a tough course, designed by Cst. Dan Burggraaf. But all the students are here voluntarily, and nearly every student returns for the next 10 week session.
As a member of the Surrey RCMP Youth Unit, Constable Burggraaf is seconded to Surrey Schools in the role of School Liaison Officer, or SLO. He works with students and staff to build positive relationships, educate, and consult on safety matters. Responsible for three secondary schools and more than a dozen elementary schools, he is well known wherever he goes. The School Liaison Officer program puts officers like Dan in schools all across the district.
The students in the “Train Like A Cop” program range from grades 8-12, and are there for a variety of reasons, from personal challenge to desire for fitness to preparation for entrance to RCMP youth academy. Cst. Dan helps them all with these goals, and reinforces a positive connection between students and the RCMP. And since Boot Camp is a regular program, the Constable’s car is often parked out front. So next time you see a police car in front of a school, you can bet an SLO is working on building those critical community relationships of trust and respect!