By J.W. Schnarr
A local student has been recognized for his crime fighting efforts on the streets of Enchant.
Enchant School Grade 8 student Peter Wu traveled to Edmonton recently to be formally recognized for his efforts to keep the peace around the hamlet of Enchant.
Tired of witnessing speeders and vandals plague his hamlet, Wu took it upon himself to organize a community watch made up of fellow students on their bikes in 2011. The students would then call the police if they saw anything.
School principal Kelly Schmidt said he had the idea for nominating Wu after receiving notice from the provincial government that went out to all schools in the province.
“When I talk to the staff, they told me that Peter had started this Enchant bike patrol,” he said.
He noted Peter originally came up with the idea after being involved in the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program and becoming excited about policing.
Wu contacted Cst. Tamara Dreaddy, the enhanced policing officer for the Municipal District of Taber, who in turn discussed the idea with M.D. council.
Guidelines were put in place, and Wu was then able to put his plan into action.
Wu said the program started because he wanted to do something to help local residents dealing with crime in the area.
“In 2013 we started helping out the RCMP, keeping them notified when people were involved in mischief or causing issues,” he said.
“In those years, there were quite a few issues. After (the program began), it didn’t happen as much. Also, most of the speeders weren’t in town anymore.”
Wu said the program involves collecting evidence such as basic facts, photos, or video shot. That evidence was then handed over to Dreaddy.
At the height of its popularity, Wu said the program involved 14 young people patrolling the streets.
In her letter of support for Wu and his efforts, Dreaddy explained how the bike patrol came about and how it operates:
“The Enchant Bike Patrol is made up entirely of volunteers, fellow students, and youth who care about their community. Enchant, with the small population of approximately 300 people, has higher traffic during the summer months, as they have a well-known and frequently visited campground across the highway. Peter told me he started the bike patrol wanting to do something about the vehicles that would ‘rip’ through town driving too fast and or damaging private property.”
“I was invited to meet with the bike patrol, and did so at the senior center in town. The group of youth before me were extremely respectful, taking the meeting seriously, serving refreshments, and having an agenda. We went over the rules they had written up to ensure they kept within the law, and (I) answered any questions they brought forward.”
“A glimpse of this group’s work was witnessed when I was messaged by Peter informing me of a mischief that had occurred at the Enchant School and in town. Someone had spray painted the school as well as a residence and a car.
“They were eager to help with the investigation and be involved as much as they could, walking me through what they had found and the damages caused. It was refreshing to see the interest in fixing a wrong, as opposed to the many people I have encountered in my career, who for the most part would rather not get involved.”
Wu said the program received a mixed response from the community, and some residents were indifferent to the efforts of the patrollers. Other residents were supportive of the initiative. In one case, a local resident provided a safe space for the patrollers to hold their meetings.
Schmidt said the information nominating Wu was sent off in November, but then heard nothing back until the school was contacted asking Schmidt how he would like his name to appear on a certificate.
“That was the last I heard of it,” said Schmidt, noting he discovered Wu had won when he saw a note on a local business stating his family were out of town to receive the award.
Sixteen young people were recognized for their achievements within the province, with four people per age group. Wu and his family traveled to Edmonton where they were put up in a hotel, attended a banquet honouring the winners, and received a certificate and plaque along with a new laptop.
“It’s a great thing for what he’s done for the town, and a big recognition for him as part of the school and part of the community,” said Schmidt.
Wu said in Edmonton, he and his family were put up in the Fantasyland Hotel.
“We stayed on the 12th floor,” he said. “It was the Hollywood Room.”
Wu hopes one day to become an RCMP constable, a dream he has been holding on to since he was six years old. He said the recognition for his efforts are a source of pride.
“I felt proud,” he said. “I was happy that I helped everybody that I could.” He added his family was shocked by the recognition.
“We knew he was such a good kid in the school and the community,” said Schmidt.
“Just being nominated was enough in itself. But to actually be chosen out of 160 applications from all these great kids who have done so many great things is outstanding.”
Dreaddy said she was proud of the work Wu has done and is happy that he was recognized for it.
“His strength and resilience in continuing to do something for his community, when others chastise or don’t take him seriously, is inspiring,” she indicated in her letter of support. “I don’t know if I would have had such courage in his shoes.”
“Peter took his down time to create something useful and constructive that would be a benefit to his community. This type of initiative is not something you find every day.”