Shopping with a cop a reward for Calgary students, and a chance to bond
'I kind of like standing close to them, because they protect us, they are like superheroes'
It's a way of thanking some northeast Calgary students for a job well done, and it comes complete with a police escort.
"I just froze. I was like, 'I get to do this?" student Tristan Norris said of his reaction when his resource teacher told him he had been chosen to hit Marlborough Mall as part of the 12th annual CopShop program.
The idea migrated from a 15-year-old Halifax program, which aims to foster good relationships between police and young people.
Twenty-seven students were each paired with a Calgary police officer and given a $200 gift card to spend any way they please at the mall.
"I am going to buy stuff for my parents and family," Norris said.
"Because it's Christmas time, I think I should get them something. I am really excited for this."
Norris also likes getting some one-on-one time with a cop.
"I have always wanted to be a police officer, ever since I was young. It's awesome that I get paired with an officer from Calgary that I can talk to about that."
Const. Mark Smith says it's about rewarding good behavior, like informal leadership, a strong work ethic or a positive attitude.
"Youth who have being doing some really good stuff during the year, it's kind of an opportunity to give back to them and allow them to do some shopping. Perhaps they want to get some items for themselves, but a lot of the youth here, they are getting some stuff for their families as well," Smith said.
"We love doing these type of events. It's all about building relationships as well. A lot of youth, sometimes they might be a little bit afraid of police and we just want to show that we are human as well. We are on the same team."
Student Newon Dissee says he liked the experience.
"We have a police officer in our school. They are just regular human beings, but I kind of like standing close to them, because they protect us," Dissee said.
"They are like superheroes."
With files from Monty Kruger