TIMMINS -- After almost 20 years at the Timmins Police Service, “Constable Rick,” as many call him, is now in hot pursuit of his passion for teaching.

Since establishing a strong community presence by educating children about drug use through the 'dare' program, he's now excited to take his experiences there and his love of policing to foster future generations of police officers.

"The big reason why I started going to the schools all the time is I wanted to put a friendly face behind policing, and that's what I want to do for our students here. I want them to show that behind the badge, behind the uniform is a real person that wants to help,” said Lemieux.

Known to the program in a part-time role at the college, he's coming into this full-time role in a tumultuous period, when post-secondary institutions adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic.

College officials say there’s policies in place for a mix of physically-distanced in-person training and online learning.

But as a teacher and eventual head of the police program, Health Sciences and Emergency Services Dean Sarah Campbell says Lemieux is someone who can usher students through those challenges.

"I think what he also brings, which is well-known in the community, is his personality. Students love someone who is interactive in the classroom and can really engage with them. We are really looking to share his strengths," said Campbell.

While public attitude towards police has diminished in recent months — Lemieux says that will factor heavily into his teaching style.

"You have to make sure that you're making good choices and you're thinking things through. People are going to be videotaping you and, it's unfortunate but — I'm going to try to explain to them — you are going to mess up," said Lemieux.

“Own up to your mistakes, make sure you learn from them.”

Lemieux's last day as constable was in early August and he's now settling into his new role.

He'll take over as head of the policing program in January.