In support of Pride Month, two officers from the Vancouver-based Out on Patrol Society spent the day talking with students at two Vernon high schools this week.
Out on Patrol is a non-profit, peer support organization for 2SLGBTQ+ members of law enforcement that focuses on community engagement, charitable work, and education.
Vancouver Police Constables Chris Birkett and Bryan Watson visited social justice classes at Fulton and VSS to talk to the youths about Out on Patrol and other 2SLGBTQ+ topics.
“In 2021, Out On Patrol received a generous grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation to launch our youth scholarship fund and in-school presentation series. Unfortunately, due to COVID, we weren’t able to get into schools until now,” said Birkett.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better first day, and that was thanks to members of the Vernon RCMP, who co-ordinated three presentations at two different schools. It was great to connect with the kids, who were engaged and had thoughtful questions related to policing and our personal experiences as 2SLGBTQ+ members of law enforcement.”
The presentations also touched on the relationship between the community and police as well as the history of 2SLGBTQ+ rights in Canada.
“It’s so important to have these positive interactions and to create safe spaces where we can have good, honest conversations, and for Chris and Bryan to come into our schools and share their story, it really reinforces that,” said Const. Neil Horne, school resource officer for the Vernon RCMP.
“Acknowledging and recognizing the past is important, and while we’ve come a long way, there is still work to be done. We want the public to know that policing is inclusive and diverse and that we’re committed to strengthening the relationships we have with members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. That message is really important.”