Victoria Police have launched a new initiative at local primary schools to honour a fallen colleague and much-loved community cop’s legacy.
Victoria Police have launched a new initiative to engage local primary school students, in honour of a fallen officer who was tragically killed while riding his bike.
Sea Lake community cop, Leading Senior Constable Dennis Cox, who was tragically killed in November last year, used to get a young student to write him a letter each week, to which he would reply with his own letter.
Senior Constable Cox saw it as a way of fostering a positive engagement with the local kids and earning their respect.
To honour Senior Constable Cox’s legacy, police in the state’s northwest have started rolling the program out in several primary schools across the region.
The “Letter to Dennis the policeman” initiative was launched at Donald Primary School on Friday morning, with the force also planning to include schools across the Buloke Shire in Sea Lake, Donald, Wycheproof, Culgoa, Birchip and Charlton.
It’s also hoped the program, if successful, will be expanded across the Swan Hill police area and eventually the state.
Donald Sergeant Darren Bull, Senior Constable Cox’s cousin and former supervisor, said he began the initiative as a way of helping a young student with his writing.
“He was a fantastic community policeman and he really loved his community,” Sergeant Bull said.
“He would be the first bloke to put his hand up to help someone that was struggling in the community.
“That’s how it’s come about; he identified a young fella at Sea Lake who was struggling with his writing and didn’t want to write anything, so Dennis got him to write him a letter each week and Dennis replied to that letter.
“It really built that young kid’s confidence, and built a relationship with him and Dennis that grew and the idea expanded from there.”
The program will see one student from each participating school write their local police officer a letter.
“It’s about building those young relationships, because you don’t have a lot of contact with the kids at that age, but through the school we can start forming those relationships so as they grow older, they know their local police and know what they stand for and that they can help them out if ever they needed,” Sergeant Bull said.
Donald Primary School principal Gavin Young said the students were really excited to be involved.
“It’s something that can’t be understated, the importance of our kids being able to relate to and feel comfortable around their local police,” he said.
“Over the last 15 months, our kids have been living in, not even a Donald bubble but their own household bubble, and the more connections we can start to open up for these kids about their local community, it can help with their self-esteem and their sense of who they are and where they fit.
“Lots of our families and especially our children have found the last 15 months really challenging because we’ve been so isolated from the rest of the community.”
Senior Constable Cox, 47, was off duty when he was allegedly struck by a car on the Sea Lake-Lascelles Road about 8am on November 12 last year.
Local farmer Bryan Hanns, 57, the man police allege was behind the wheel, has been charged with culpable driving causing death and dangerous and careless driving.
He is next due to face court in July.