Physical challenges no barrier to Calgary policing career

For one girl dreaming of a career in policing, a day spent with Calgary police showed her the possibilities are limitless.

Eleven-year-old Erin Donaldson gets fingerprinted at the Youthlink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre as part of her day learning the ins and outs of policing in the city. Courtesy Calgary Police Service

Bryan Passifiume, Calgary Sun December 25, 2017

Despite dealing with the challenges of cerebral palsy, 11-year-old Erin Donaldson long dreamed of pursuing a career in policing — a dream she got a small taste of Friday as she got to spend a shift alongside Calgary’s finest.

“Erin’s always wanted to be a police officer, which is why she joined the patrol team at school,” said dad James Donaldson, describing his daughter’s work helping her classmates at John Costello Catholic Elementary cross the road safely on their way to school.

“She’s always wanted to be somehow involved in the Calgary Police Service.”

Courtesy Donaldson family

Having made friends with many city police officers associated with the Calgary-based Cerebral Palsy Kids and Family agency, Erin’s dad said the Grade 6 student wanted more than anything to join her role models on the front lines of upholding the law and keeping public order.

And that’s just what happened on Friday.

Facilitated by 3 District Const. Kelly Lower, Erin’s day began with a ridealong in a CPS cruiser, during which she got to go on a routine patrol through the streets of Calgary.

Next, Erin headed to Calgary 9-1-1 where she got an opportunity to tour the CPS dispatch centre and learn how calls from the public are received and sent to officers on the street.

It was also a chance for Erin to see firsthand how those with physical challenges can be accommodated — specifically a dispatcher who, despite their disability, was able to perform their duties thanks to a little technological help.

“Although they weren’t there that day, Erin saw the technology one dispatcher had,” Erin’s dad said.

“(Erin’s) wheelchair has a bluetooth mouse device that allows her to control her own keyboard remotely on a computer — so we looked at her and she said to me, ‘I get it… it’s just like doing my math at school.’”

From there, Erin headed to the CPS headquarters at Westwinds, where she got a taste of police training and got some face time with a couple of four-legged members of the Calgary police canine unit — a patrol dog and an explosive detection dog.

Courtesy Calgary Police Service

“She loved that — she’s a big animal lover,” said Marija Donaldson, Erin’s mom.

She then paid a visit to the Youthlink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre, where she was given the VIP treatment by staff.

“Her disability doesn’t stop her — she downhill skis with Canada Disabled Skiing, she rides horses, she rides a bike — she’s just a normal kid,” her dad said.

“I think it was really good of the police service to take the time to make that connection for her, to show her that there’s ways for her to participate down the road.”

When asked if she enjoyed her day, Erin did not mince words.

“Heck yeah!” she exclaimed.

“She really kind of gravitated towards police officers — she’s a bit of a self-professed enforcer,” Erin’s dad said with a laugh.

“We wanted to show her that there’s a bunch of different ways she could participate — to show her she doesn’t have to be out there in a police car chasing bad guys, she can definitely help out and be part of something.”

Source Calgary Sun

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