Fort Saskatchewan RCMP constable Suzanne Ahlstrom isn’t spending much of her time chasing down bad guys these days.
The local police officer is more likely to be found talking to teenagers about texting while driving or Grade 6 students about the dangers of drug use.
Ahlstrom is now in her third year as the local detachment’s school resource officer, a role created a few years ago to make it easier for students to connect with law enforcement in a more positive way.
"The main focus is the junior high and high schools, to give a close working relationship and accessibility for both the students and the staff to build that relationship with the police," Ahlstrom said.
Although older students occupy most of her time, Ahlstrom’s beat includes all 13 of Fort Saskatchewan’s elementary, junior and senior high schools. A big part of her job, she said, has to do with education. She drops by classrooms to talk to students about bullying, social media use and other tough issues that crop up in the city’s schools.

“I also teach the DARE program to the Grade 6s. And if a Grade 2 student needed my assistance with maybe something that was happening at home or a growing concern, then I would also go to the elementary schools as well."
Ahlstrom’s duties include being available for any students looking for help.
“So if they are having any kind of issues that they are dealing with that may need police, that they feel comfortable in approaching me and can speak about it and come to a solution,” she said.
Bullying continues to be one of the biggest problems Ahlstrom sees during a typical workday, an issue she tackles though educational presentations or by working directly with students one on one.
“The misuse of social media is also one that comes up quite often,” she said."So I do a lot of education that way on the appropriate uses of the Internet and that kind of thing."
The pursuit of criminal code charges is a minimal part of Ahlstrom's work, but sometimes the enforcement side does have to happen, she said, mainly when it comes to driving and traffic issues among high school students. This year Ahlstrom will be helping students at each of the city's three high schools set up committees aimed at finding creative new ways to curb distracted driving.
Students needing help who might not feel comfortable approaching Ahlstrom directly can also ask teachers or principals to set up a time to talk.
“Or else they can call the main line of the detachment. And if it's something that's happening at school during the school hours, then it would be assigned to me to attend."

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