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Our very own canine companion, Officer Blue, is all grown up and off to spread his message of safety to the rest of the world.
A police service in the Ukraine has adopted the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) colouring-book mascot, and his messaging, as part of its own community outreach program to children and parents about safety.
The Juvenile Justice Reform Project in the Ukraine (UJJRP) is a six-year Canadian funded technical cooperation project that aims to support the Ukraine government's commitment to reforming its justice system.
"During a study tour to Canada three years ago, (OPS) Sgt. Mark Houldsworth showcased police services and judicial systems," said Deputy Field Manager of the Ukraine Juvenile Justice Reform Project, Katia Novokhatnia. "He provided us with the colouring book that is used by OPS School Resource Officers (SROs), and with permission we have replicated it in the Ukraine."
The book will be used in the same way it's used by OPS SROs - to educate children and help them learn ways to stay safe.
"It's intended for elementary-aged students, teachers and parents, primarily for prevention but also to create educational awareness programs," said Novokhatnia.
Our favourite safety pup came to life as part of the brainchild of OPS member Laurie Fenton.
"This was part of my portfolio in 2005 and was part of our 150th anniversary working group, Youth Section and Crime Prevention Week committee," said Fenton. "I am very proud that Officer Blue (my baby, or should I say my puppy) continues to flourish and find work in other roles such as the gift shop, online, temporary tattoos and of course in the colouring book. And now this!"
Fenton even had a placement student put together a business case for expanding the safety canine's scope to be used as a training tool, complete with a full costume.
"I even asked the last Chief if he could be 'sworn in' with a recruit class!" laughed Fenton.
Four SROs in the Ukraine have already introduced Officer Blue to students, with the expectation that this program will be shared nation-wide.
"It makes me smile that Officer Blue, at 10-years-old, has found yet another assignment," said Fenton. "Just another example of an OPS community policing project with international reach: #iloveofficerblue, #whereismymascotuniformalready, #OPSproud."