Police in Vernon are investigating two reports of suspicious activity involving school aged children at a pair of local schools Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Christine Love, director of instruction at School District 22, confirmed that safety notifications were sent to families of students at Harwood Elementary School and and Ellison Elementary School.
Around 1:20 p.m. Wednesday, police received a report that a group of students had been approached by an unknown person at an elementary school in the 4300 block of 20th Street.
The school activated a hold and secure protocol, which was lifted shortly after police arrived and determined there was no danger.
The early stages of the investigation have found that a group of students near the edge of the school grounds were asked for directions to a local business by an unknown man who left the area.
About two hours later, Police received a report that a 10-year-old girl walking home from school in the 4300 block of 15th Avenue had an interaction with a stranger. The girl was following behind a man walking a medium sized brown dog who got into a vehicle. As the girl walked past the vehicle, the dog was in the passenger seat with the window rolled down. The man asked the girl if she wanted to pet the dog. The girl replied ‘no’ and the man drove away.
The safety of children in our community is our utmost priority, said Const. Chris Terleski, media relations officer for the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP, in a press release Thursday.
We want to ensure our children have the tools and knowledge to keep themselves safe when they are out in public and parents and caregivers play an important role in that. Safety education is important and helps kids prepare for situations they may encounter. Talk to your kids and establish safe habits for interacting with strangers, what to watch out for, and what to do if they feel unsafe.
Police are also reminding the public to report suspicious activity directly to their local police detachment.
“We (work) closely with our partners at School District 22 and are continuing to investigate the incidents. Based on information we have at this time, there is nothing to indicate any criminality in either. In each of these situations, the children acted appropriately and notified a trusted adult. We felt it necessary to inform the public for their awareness, or to invite the persons involved to contact the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP,” Terleski added.
“We recognize that the events of (yesterday) may have been difficult or challenging for some students and families. If you feel like your child needs any additional support, please reach out to the school,” Rana Grace, principal at Harwood Elementary, said in a letter to parents Wednesday.
Safety tips and information for parents, caregivers and children can be found on the RCMP website.