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DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Staff Sergeant Damon Werrell likely didn’t expect to learn as much as he has from School District 59 students during their lunch-hour ZOOM calls.

As a way to get police officers into classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic, Werrell came up with the idea of using technology and his lunch break. It turns out he’s booked up for the next few weeks at schools in the South Peace.

Last week, Werrell had lunch with a Grade 3 and 4 class at Tremblay School and a class of the same grades at Pouce Coupe Elementary. This week, the Grade 1 and 2 class at Pouce Coupe and the Grade 5 to 7 class at Parkland School broke bread with the staff sergeant.

“The pandemic has required us to use out-of-the-box thinking to generate positive policing relations with our youth, without the ability to physically attend schools,” says Werrell.

“The online lunches provide an opportunity to interact with the students in an environment which is less formal and creates the ability to generate non-traditional conversations, break down barriers, and throw ideas back and forth.”

Speaking of throwing ideas around, Werrell has learned some pretty cool things from the thoughtful students. One class informed Werrell that spider web silk is 100 times stronger than kevlar, and it should be considered for use in bulletproof vests.

Another idea raised by students was to use raccoons as bomb defusers. According to the class, raccoons have better motor skills than dogs, and they could use their arms to defuse the bombs where dogs can only locate them.

Werrell says he expects to continue the popular lunch-hour ZOOM chats throughout the rest of the school year, and with great student ideas like these, who can blame him?

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