Andy Gagne says he’s not a hero but rather following the example of the extraordinary kids he interacts with daily.
The West Ferris Intermediate and Secondary School principal was honoured with a plaque presentation at the North Bay Police Service Board meeting, Tuesday.
“Every day, I see kids do the right thing, so it’s nice when the adults can do the right thing, as well. I have a lot of kids that I have to answer to and they set the standard pretty high,” said the career educator.
Last May, Gagne came to the aid of Constable Richard Hampel in detaining a much larger man believed to be abusing substances. Hampel attended the presentation to thank Gagne once more.
“He was a great help,” said Hampel, who admits the interaction could have gone much differently without Gagne’s assistance. Hampel says the man he was trying to arrest “was quite a bit bigger than myself. Trying to handcuff somebody who doesn’t want to be handcuffed is very difficult.”
Hampel says the man the two worked together to handcuff was found to be concealing a large knife in his boot. Hampel adds his backup was several minutes away when he spotted the wanted man in the Algonquin Avenue and Greenwood Avenue area. The officer chased the subject and Gagne came across them as they struggled in a ditch.
Gagne says he first asked Hampel if he needed help but said it was obvious the officer had his hands full as the would-be prisoner had made several attempts to punch the officer. “I said to my wife, we should get involved.” And, Gagne’s decisive action helped bring the escalating situation under control.
“When we have officers at our school, it’s not always a negative. We bring officers in…all the time,” says Gagne, “they work with students to be proactive.”