Constable Josh Nutley is a popular guy.
When out around town with his wife Angele and their two boys, he’ll receive countless nods, waves and friendly greetings. They won’t be from his peers, though – Josh’s popularity is mainly with locals between age five and 18.
Josh is the school resource officer for Quesnel’s RCMP detachment, and he acts as a youth and community liaison, so his face is a familiar one at Quesnel’s elementary and high schools.
He took on the role in 2015, and something clicked.
“It’s funny; as a street cop, I was OK, but in this role I seem to excel. I don’t know if the kids and I are on the same level, IQ wise…,” he jokes.
“Even out of uniform, they seem to gravitate towards me,” he says.
In the schools and on the streets
Josh is well-connected with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the youth probation program, youth action team and the youth centre.
“If something happens [to a student] and I can’t help them, I know someone who can. It’s a team effort,” he says.
He runs anti-bullying campaigns and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) programs at the elementary school level, and has a more active role at the high school level, mentoring troubled youth.
”I go visit every school in the Quesnel district. At the elementary school level we do a lot of DARE, and the older kids it’s a bit more intense. I’m at Quesnel Junior School a lot to talk about substance abuse.
“The high-risk kids know me; I might have dealt with them more – at home, with their families too.”
Josh gives his personal phone number to those youth, so they can get in touch with him at any time to talk.
“I just take the call, go in another room, or I come in and meet someone somewhere. It’s hard not to get personally involved. There are some major issues with these families and it doesn’t always happen Monday to Friday, 8-4. There is a lot of that involved, but that’s the most rewarding part,” he explains.
“With Quesnel being as small as it is, I can get to those kids. There are not too many kids I don’t know in this town.”
Because he is such a notable presence at the schools, Josh finds he is able to connect with Quesnel’s youth in a unique way.
“The high school kids will tell me what’s happening; ‘Hey this is the new thing, this is the new app, this kid is being picked on, this girl might be harming herself…’,” says Josh.
“I’m always at the counsellors’ office at Correlieu, talking to counsellors, visiting kids. Every now and then take one out for coffee and check that they are OK. From that aspect, I’m almost more of a counsellor. But it can prevent, in the long run, what could be not-so-nice things – going down the wrong path or harming themselves or whatnot.”
Making a difference through sport
Josh also coaches basketball and football at the high school level, and this year also took on coaching some elementary teams, along with Angele.
“At the senior level, its harder for me to connect [with students] unless I’m coaching. They don’t want me to go over there and lecture them. The last couple years, coaching has opened up so many doors,” he explains.
Students from McNaughton Centre, Quesnel’s alternative high school, are often given permission to join the Correlieu teams.
Being on a team can make a big difference for some at-risk youth, says Josh.
“By the end of the season, they are a different kid. They have that sense of belonging, which is a huge issue for kids. That’s one thing I harp on. No matter if you are friends outside of [the team], on the court you are. And the bond grows. We’ve had a couple really good success stories.”
Josh and Angele’s coaching is all done on a volunteer basis, but they say it’s incredibly rewarding.
“We do sports because, lets be honest, if kids have nothing to do, they’re going to find something to do that’s not good.”
This year, two elementary schools were in danger of having to shut down their basketball programs because of lack of volunteer coaches and organizers. Josh and Angele stepped in to make sure the programs happened.
Along for the ride
All their activities end up being family affairs, because the Nutleys are so busy.
“We drag our children to everything,” laughs Angele.
“They are four and six. So they go to basketball tournaments and everything. We brought [our son] Edge to his first basketball tournament when he was 4 months old. And the day I gave birth, Josh asked if he could go coach the football team! I said, ‘Go for it!’”
That level of dedication to sport, and to Quesnel’s youth, is something that has impressed many in the community. Quesnel RCMP Staff Sergeant Andrew Burton calls the pair a dynamic duo.
“At least two days a week, after his shift ends, Josh goes to Correlieu and opens up the school gym for a couple hours, so kids can play drop-in sports. He and his wife Angele are strong supporters of the local youth drop-in centre and volunteer countless hours there,” says Burton.
“I receive many calls from or get stopped on the street by teachers, parents and other people who have stories of how Josh has positively affected the lives of young people in Quesnel. The Quesnel RCMP and our community are very fortunate to have Constable Nutley working and volunteering for us.”
Supporting local causes
And the Nutleys’ passion for supporting youth doesn’t end there.
Josh and Angele also put on community sporting events to raise money for local charities.
They hosted a basketball tournament in aid of KidSport – a national not-for-profit that provides financial assistance to children who want to play sports – recently, and have run similar events with proceeds going to Big Brothers Big Sisters Quesnel and The Canadian Cancer Society.
“The sporting events bring everyone together. And we participate an RCMP team if we can – we want the community involved in what we’re doing, but also get our guys involved in the community,” says Josh.
“It helps them see the other side of the community, because these guys get pretty jaded. And it helps the community see the RCMP in a different light,” he explains.
The couple’s fundraising efforts for the annual Cops for Cancer Tour de North bike ride have seen them recognized by the Canadian Cancer Society for their achievements. They have been selected to receive the Canadian Cancer Society’s 2018 Community Champion Award.
“What is so exceptional in my mind, is that they are holding these events to bring joy to their community, and to help a great cause just because they care,” says Erin Reynolds, Canadian Cancer Society’s annual giving co-ordinator.
“They are completely generous and selfless.”
Hearts in the right place
While connecting with youth is part of his job, Josh has long been interested in mentoring young people. He was a big brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters, until his mentee recently moved.
Angele says the whole family got to know Josh’s little brother.
“We always brought your little brother with us, as a family, to movies, whatever. It was great.”
“We had a good connection,” agrees Josh.
The Nutleys take great pride in the community, and have been in Quesnel for 10 years, after moving here from Ontario. They found their first winter hard, but now believe Quesnel is a hidden treasure. Although many RCMP officers are posted here and transfer after a few years, the Nutley family has no plans to leave.
“We feel a real connection here. There’s so many great people.
“How cool is it that there’s a little league diamond in the middle of town? And the soccer facility is great. Our staff sergeant here is really supportive and so is my boss, Chris Riddle.”
Angele also enjoys her job at the Quesnel & District Arts and Recreation Centre, and the couple both love the way the community has embraced what they do.
“If we sit around hoping someone will help that kid, or raise money for this or that program… it won’t get done,” says Josh.
“Angele and I just do it. And we get as much out of it as we put in. We’ve made so many connections. It’s been a really humbling experience.”