Mitchell Proactive Policing Unit Senior Constable Brooke Malane with Operation MITTENS video competition winners Kate and Will Hopper and finalists Grace Armstrong, Isabel McNicoll, Millie Munro, Hayley Waddell, and Maya Hopper.

By Jackson Russell

The Mitchell Proactive Policing Unit is reinforcing the relationship between police and children through a new online, interactive initiative.

Operation MITTENS (Mitchell Interactive Term Two Engagement Network Strategy) was created after the unit identified that COVID-19 restrictions were impacting police youth engagement in schools.

Conversations with schools revealed students in grades five and six were the most severely impacted by remote learning with Operation MITTENS targeting those children.

The initiative included weekly video engagement with students, with a challenge or discussion point, a ‘Questions for the Cops’ question and answer session, and a safety video competition.

Throughout term two, students were given the opportunity, while at home or in the classroom, to work on creating a crime prevention video.

Students were given the term to research and compile their submissions, which could be a video or snippet of information, completed individually, as a family or as a class.

Students from Upper Plenty Primary School led the challenge by submitting four safety videos, which exhibited excellent safety messaging and were all very creative.

Mitchell Proactive Policing Unit Senior Constable Brooke Malane said the students were enthusiastic and looked forward to the lessons with police.

“We covered lots of different topics from mental health to crime prevention to snippets like the divisional van coming out, crime scene services and other departments,” she said.

“It really helped with engaging with the kids through group activities online helped to have that new tech to engage with youth in particular because they’re all over it anyway.

“A special thanks to Ashley Triffett from Upper Plenty Primary School and Laura Powell from Mitchell Shire Council for their support, they were both really enthusiastic, and to Mitchell Youth Council for their support as well.”

Upper Plenty Primary School grade five and six teacher Ashley Triffett said Operation MITTENS presented a unique opportunity to give students a different platform to engage with.

“It was optional and a lot of them participated in it. They had to work it around their own school hours and we would post one activity a week they could work into whenever suited them and they shared what they enjoyed about it in our morning meetings,” she said.

“It kept a really proactive relationship with the police, which I think is highly important in our community, to have that positive relationship early on.

“We want to be reaching out to youth before high school and issues start occurring. The kids just love them, they think they’re celebrities when they jump on.

“Thanks to the team for the extra effort they’ve gone to support the kids in our community through a really difficult time.”

Upper Plenty Primary School students Will and Kate Hopper won the competition and were virtually presented with personalised certificates and police coins by Mitchell Police Service Area Inspector Peter Koger.

Will and Kate were also virtually congratulated and presented with a gift voucher from Mitchell Shire Youth Council Mayor Thomas Starkey.

All finalists in the competition received personalised certificates and a small runner-up prize while all participants received a certificate of participation.

Students received their certificates and prizes once classes resumed.

The winning entry into the Operation MITTENS safety video competition can be viewed on the Eyewatch – Mitchell Police Service Area Facebook page.

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