School resource officer program put on pause at WRDSB
The Waterloo Region District School Board administration building is seen on Thursday, May 9, 2013. (David Imrie / CTV Kitchener)
KITCHENER -- There will be no police presence or programs at Waterloo Region District School Board schools for the foreseeable future.
In a Monday evening meeting, the school board chose to review the School Resource Officer program, and suspend the program while it is under review.
Since the review will not begin until the fall at the earliest, it’s expected there will be no police in schools once they start back up.
The decision comes amid the ‘Defund the Police’ campaign, which asks in part for police to be removed from school settings.
Regional police say the school resource officer program is a team of 10 officers meant to develop a positive relationship with students and police.
They are able to help with lessons about topics like bike safety, drugs, and social media awareness.
The program is also designed to be a point of contact for students and staff in case of emergency.
Trustees say that after the Black Lives solidarity marches earlier this month, they began to hear from the community that the program has shifted purpose.
“What I am hearing from people is that it has more of enforcement act now, they are in the schools to enforce the rules and sometimes make arrests,” said Scott Piatowski, a WRDSB trustee.
A newly formed group called Students for Inclusive Schools, who wants to see police out of schools permanently, released a statement to CTV News Monday night saying they feel student voices and experiences have been undervalued.
Their statement, from a Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute graduate, reading in part, "We were pleased to see the trustees approve the motion to review the SRO program. Moving forward, we will continue calling for a comprehensive review that centers student voices. Students are speaking out about this program, and we insist that our stories are valued as data."
In a statement, Waterloo Regional Police Service say they support an evidence-based review and look forward to further discussions about the program.