The Nelson Police Department is making great headway in its search for volunteers for its innovative Restorative Justice Program — and with training slated to begin soon, the NPD is making a last call for all who may still be interested in signing up.
The program places would-be law breakers face-to-face with those they’ve affected by their actions, and together, perpetrators and victims explore ways to repair the harm that’s been done.
“This program will do far more to make a first-time offender recognize that they have done harm to others, as well as to themselves, than the criminal justice system could ever hope to accomplish,” says NPD Chief Wayne Holland. “The personal interaction between the perpetrators — who often are former victims themselves — and the citizens who have been wronged can result in a young person being motivated to change the direction of his or her life, for their benefit as well as that of their community.”
Since the first call for volunteers went out this spring, 10 locals have been interviewed in preparation for the program’s intensive training course, which will run from September through December.
“I’ve been very impressed with applicants’ backgrounds and varied experiences,” says Restorative Justice Program Coordinator Gerry Sobie, who is leading the effort along with NPD Sergeant Dino Falcone. “I hear the commitment and passion in their voices,” Sobie added.
Sobie says his candidates come from a broad background of professions including computational sciences, environmental management, city administration, social work, automotive technician, retired educators, food services and retail.
One of the volunteer applicants is retired school principal and 35-year Nelson resident Wayne Prentice, who says the program will have great benefits for the city.
“It’s a process through which relationships are restored,” says Prentice, a longtime local elementary school principal up until his retirement in 2007. “If a crime has been committed, both the victim and perpetrator need restoring so both can be functional and productive again in our community. The responsible party must understand and accept responsibility for her/his actions.”
Sobie says Restorative Justice will help make Nelson a healthier, more compassionate community than it already is.
Restorative Justice training will run on Saturdays and weekday evenings starting in September. The program is looking for another 10 volunteers.
If you’re interested in learning more, contact Gerry Sobie at NPD phone 250-354-3919 or email@example.com Volunteer application forms are at the front desk of the Nelson Police Department or online on the NPD website.