Toronto school board puts program that puts cops in schools on hold
TORONTO — Canada’s largest school board has suspended a controversial program that placed Toronto police officers in certain schools in the city.
Trustees with the Toronto District School Board voted Wednesday night to put the School Resource Officer program on hold for the upcoming school year and put off a permanent decision until more data is collected and a report is prepared.
The decision comes after Toronto’s police services board voted last week to have the program reviewed, with the assessment to be carried out by Ryerson University.
The School Resource Officer program saw police officers deployed at 36 of the TDSB’s 75 schools in an effort to improve safety and perceptions of police.
It was implemented in 2008 after 15-year-old Jordan Manners was shot and killed at C. W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute the previous year.
Critics of the program have argued that armed officers in schools intimidate students.
Rodney Diverlus, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, applauded the TDSB’s decision to suspend the program.
“While this is not a full victory, this is an important step forward,” he wrote in statement posted on Facebook.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said she is a fan of community policing and was glad the program wasn’t shut down entirely.
“Having a police officer in a school to get to know kids so that kids get to understand that that’s a relationship that can actually be helpful, I think that’s a good thing,” Wynne said during a panel discussion on Toronto radio station CFRB Thursday morning.
“I think it’s a good thing that the TDSB didn’t cancel this program ... I think that if they need to look at it, fair enough.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he was surprised to hear of the program’s suspension and said he hoped the board would look at the results of the review being conducted by Ryerson.
“The school board has made their own decision on this and that’s fine. They’re entitled to do that,” Tory said.
An interim report on review of the program being conducted by Ryerson is expected to be released in January.
- Brennan Doherty
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2017
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