AMHERST –West Highlands Elementary made a special road trip Thursday, arriving safe and sound at the front door of the Cumberland RCMP’s detachment to deliver cards of thanks, balloons and pictures.
The school trip is out of the ordinary for West Highlands, but then it’s been out of the ordinary for RCMP since the death of three officers in Moncton last week. Const. Travis Dow was one of the local officers to offer support in Moncton while the manhunt and eventual arrest of the gunman too place, and he joined his colleagues Tuesday in laying to rest the slain officers.
In his formal red uniform, it might look like business as usual for Dow and the Cumberland RCMP but recent events aren’t far from their mind, so when they learned the students wanted to show their thanks to the officers who keep their neighbourhoods safe, it was a welcomed distraction.
“It fills me with a sense of pride,” Dow said. “[Moncton] raised emotions and a sense of reality of the world we live in, but this brings us back to the world of love and innocence only a child can.”
Since returning from Moncton, Dow has resumed his duties as the detachments communications officers and visiting schools, receiving support from local students throughout the county. On Thursday, they came to him.
“We wanted to thank them for their bravery and dedication, and all that they do for us,” West Highlands Principal Kevin Mapplebeck said. “We really appreciate the effort all of our officers do for us.”
Students were scared when the gunman was at large, Mapplebeck recalled. After he was caught, however, students had questions about what just happened in their world. And now, slowly, things are getting back to normal.
“That’s the beautiful thing about kids, that innocence,” Mapplebeck said. “The RCMP did the same thing; they put on their uniforms the next day and got back to work, but I’m sure it was a lot more difficult for them.”
To make it a little easier, a convoy of school buses arrived at the Cumberland RCMP Detachment with the students of West Highlands. With them they brought art, letters, posters and well wishes for the officers.
“We really appreciate the effort the community has done for us,” Sgt. Allan Carroll said, his words breaking off with emotion.
And rightly so. It’s been an emotional time for everyone.