PENTICTON - Police presence at Penticton schools following the discovery of a threatening letter will be scaled back after classes end on Feb. 27 with Penticton RCMP saying they have exhausted all leads.
The threatening letter found on school grounds Feb. 18, 2015 prompted a swift response from Mounties, but the investigation offered no new developments this week and Penticton RCMP media relations officer Sgt. Rick Dellebuur said Thursday afternoon, Feb. 26, the investigation is winding down.
“Police have been stationed at schools all week, but we have not been able to identify the author of the letter," Dellebuur said. "We’ve run out of tips to the point where we are getting repeats now. The well is running dry.”
Police profiling teams were unable to determine a profile of the perpetrator from the letter, Delleburr said. Moving forward, the department will maintain continued awareness of the threat but will reduce police presence around schools to patrols.
One Penticton parent, disappointed about the way she heard of the threatening letter found on Penticton High and Kettle Valley Middle School grounds last week, said she would like the school to ensure parents’ groups are notified of such incidents at the same time or before media is notified.
Daryl Meyers is Director of Residential Life for the Okanagan Hockey School, and as such oversees approximately 80 athletes that billet with families in Penticton to attend school here.
When last week’s news about the threatening letter broke, Meyers found out about until around 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18. By then, she was in catch up mode, as concerned parents from all over the world were already calling to find out what was going on.
“Parents and players found out through social media and the media,” Meyers said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t have the information prior, or at least the same time as, the releases to the media.”
Meyers said when concerned parents began calling, she had little information to share.
“The phone calls started coming in, parents from Europe and Japan - I was trying to explain to them what was happening without enough information to tell.”
Meyers said because she didn’t have enough information to be confident of the student’s safety on Thursday morning, the billeted players didn’t go to school that day.
Meyer presented her issues during the Feb. 22 school board community meeting.
"The meeting provided us with some information and gave me confidence things are being worked on,” she said, adding this week the athletes were back in school.
Troubled youth do have avenues in the city by which they can seek help, should they choose to do so, said Michelle Glibbery, a school counsellor with Penticton High.
She said if a struggling school student were to reach out to anyone on staff - a teacher, education assistant, counsellor or administrator, there would be a number of options for support available, both within the school and the greater community.
Glibbery said school counsellors can offer a variety of support, including providing food, counselling support and liaising with outside agencies. School programs offering social skill teaching and training for students who have difficulty making friends are also available.
In the City of Penticton, the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s social workers can help youth not living at home or those experiencing child neglect or abuse.
Child and Youth Mental Health clinicians can provide counselling support for youth who are experiencing suicidal thoughts, self-harm, anxiety and depression.
The Penticton and District Community Resources Society also has numerous programs including family support, personal counselling and sexual abuse treatment.
Glibbery noted online support programs, are available to youth who aren't comfortable reaching out to local support people. Sites such as youthinbc.com, an online crisis line are great outreaches to youth, she said.
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