Constable Lou Kennaugh’s effort to build a positive relationship between the police, children at Victoria Road School and their parents has been rewarded.
Lou is the final police officer to be nominated for Isle of Man Newspapers’ Community Police Officer of the Year Award.
A former pupil of the Castletown school, she has been working with Victoria Road staff and pupils for five years – and over the past couple of years has made a concerted effort to forge a good relationship.
‘I got frustrated with how things have changed over the years,’ she said.
‘When I was a kid, if you needed help or were in trouble you were told to speak to a police officer.
‘It started to turn around so children were being told if they were naughty again they would be arrested.’
‘I was worried they would start fearing us rather than seeing us as a protective person.’
Lou is a familiar face in the school – and went one step further last summer by organising an Emergency Services Day at the school.
It saw representatives and vehicles from all the emergency services go along to the school – as a surprise – so pupils could learn about the roles of the different services.
In a letter sent from head teacher Ian Postlethwaite on behalf of all the staff, he said: ‘The children had great fun exploring the vehicles, trying out various equipment, setting off the sirens, using the fire hoses and meeting Saxon the police dog.’
He described Lou as a ‘friendly and familiar face’ to the children of Victoria Road, as she often pops into classrooms at the start or end of the day to say hello to them.
She regularly goes into classrooms on a more formal basis to talk to classes about various aspects of her job as a police officer, to help the children learn to make the right choices in regards to their behaviour outside of school and to give advice about how to keep themselves safe.
Mr Postlethwaite said: ‘She is able to talk to the children at a level that they understand and the children respect and act upon what she says.’
He added: ‘PC Lou acknowledges when children have made positive contributions to the community and even made the effort to come into school to thank a child for handing in money that they’d found.
‘She also goes out of her way to ensure that the area around school is safe for children being dropped off in the morning or picked up at the end of the day.’
Lou, aged 38, has served in the police force since 1998. During that time she has worked in child protection, and been based at Peel, where she was promoted to acting sergeant.
She said it was ‘humbling’ to be nominated.
Nominations for the Community Police Officer of the Year Award have closed.
Judges now face the difficult task of choosing the winner from the following: Constables Lou Kennaugh, Andy Lloyd, Jimmy Cubbon, Steve Lapsley and Kevin Newburn, and Inspector Paul Bryan.
The winner will be presented with their award at the Chief Constable’s annual awards ceremony next month.