Teaching children bicycle safety is the goal of the annual bike rodeo, but the program that supports it is designed to give potential recruits some real-world policing experience.
Two local students have been hired for the summer under the provincial Youth in Policing initiative. It's for students between 15 and 18 and the program lasts for eight weeks.
"It offers them a chance to look at policing as a potential future career," explained Special Constable John Schultz at the Omischl Sports Complex Thursday morning. "It also gives us a chance to do outreach in the community."
This year, two grade 12 students, Brandon Mills from West Ferris and Jacob Leveille from Algonquin, have worked on things like the Farmers' Market explaining crime prevention programs.
"As well this year they are running six bicycle rodeos, and that's really important because they are aimed at the youth in our community and we want to teach them about proper equipment and rules of the road," added Shultz.
Student Jacob Leveille is enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with all the first responder teams, like the MNRF and OPP, fire department, and ambulance dispatch.
"One of the main opportunities is with crime prevention at social events, Farmers' Market, and butterfly release. Basically, a big learning opportunity for us chasing a career in policing."
Leveille is particularly interested in the mobile crisis aspect of the job.
"They are a team that helps out with mental health calls. We've got to work a lot with them and I've had a chance to pick their brain and learn about what they do. It's a nurse and an officer and they're not in uniform and they respond to mental health calls, anything to do with mental breakdowns, and I think it's really interesting."
As far as the rodeo goes, Leveille says the kids are excited to see the program running.
"They are really happy with the bike course. A lot of activities have been cancelled because of COVID, and getting out here and doing this is really great and showing that North Bay Police Service is really committed to their community."
"It's really great fun, I'm really happy to do this," 10-year-old Hazel Craig told BayToday, as she proudly showed off her certificate of achievement and added one of the giveaway stickers to her bicycle.
It takes around 10-15 minutes to go through the course and get the certificate of completion.
Four bike rodeos remain, two at Lee Park, another at Omischl, and in August one at the Legion in Callander. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
You can get further details on the NBPS Twitter and Facebook accounts.