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Junior chiefs get inside look at life as a South Simcoe Police officer

“Everyone keeps asking them for the day off," said South Simcoe Police Chief Andrew Fletcher.

Imagine getting to handcuff a South Simcoe Police officer, turn on a Taser, fingerprint a friend, ride in a police boat, and have lunch with the police chief — all at age 13.

Two local students, including one from Bradford West Gwillimbury, got such a chance after being sworn in as junior chiefs Thursday.

“The fingerprinting was fun with the magnetic powder,” said Makyla Merrlles, a student at Killarney Beach School in Lefroy.

An added bonus of being named junior chief? “We can get out of school for a day,” she said, with a smile.

Zoe Walters, a student at W.H. Day Elementary School, said she is interested in becoming a police officer one day and it would be “cool serving the community.”

She said she it was fun handcuffing police Const. Rob Enwright, South Simcoe Police Service’s school resource officer, as well as seeing a K9 demonstration by Const. Shawn Gwilliam and police service dog Nitro, and getting to ride a police boat from the Lefroy Harbour marina.

The girls also got tours of the Innisfil and Bradford police stations and went for lunch to Swiss Chalet with South Simcoe Police Chief Andrew Fletcher.

“What we’re trying to do with the police service is build a relationship with the community,” Fletcher said. “They get that inside perspective. They start to understand… going to forensics — it’s not like CSI.”

After swearing Zoe and Makyla as junior chiefs, Fletcher said some other police officers started making requests.

“Everyone keeps asking them for the day off,” he said, laughing. “I told them one epaulet (on his uniform) is for N and the other is for O. They need to learn to say, ‘No.’”

The girls were each selected for junior chief out of 70 entries in an essay-writing contest open to all elementary schools in BWG and Innisfil.

"When I get older I'm really determined to become a really strong female officer," Zoe wrote in her essay.

"I'm just going to write from the heart," wrote Makyla. "Being chief for a day would be amazing."

During the K9 demonstration at the Innisfil police station, Gwilliam taught the girls how Nitro is trained to bite but only when told. A man assisting in the demonstration, who was wearing a protective cover over one arm, was then bit by Nitro on that cover.

Nitro, who is 22 months old, is trained in obedience, and he lives with Gwilliam and works with him every shift.

Gwilliam also taught the girls about how he has trained Nitro to find people.

“We use him not only to find people who have committed crimes, but also people who are missing or in distress,” he said.

Jenni Dunning

About the Author: Jenni Dunning

Jenni Dunning is a community editor and reporter who covers news in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury.
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