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Vancouver School Board set to review role of police officers in schools

Last Updated Jun 23, 2020 at 5:37 am PST

(Photo by Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)

The Vancouver School Board will consult with parents, students, and community groups before deciding to remove officers

The School Liaison Officer program will remain in place while the review is underway

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The Vancouver School Board has approved a move to have an independent third party review the role of Vancouver Police and RCMP officers in schools.

This would include rethinking the role of School Liaison Officers in light of the larger conversations taking place about the role of police, prompted by large scale protests over racism and police brutality.

“In the wake of so many deaths of, and violence inflicted on Black and Indigenous folks and folks of colour — George Floyd, [Chief] Alan Adam, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Chantel Moore, Rodney Levi — just to name a few in the states and in Canada there’s been a lot of good public debate about the role of police in society,” said Trustee Lois Chan-Pedley when speaking in support of the motion Monday.

“We need to have a good review and engagement with experts and — most importantly — with the students and the communities that are in this district. I hope that this review will shed some light on issues of duty, of safety, of perceptions of safety and what aspects of education and student well-being can or should be carried out by members of the police force.”

She noted a diverse group of people has voiced strong opposition to the presence of officers in schools, but there has also been “an outpouring of support for the program”.

Board Chair Janet Fraser supported a review, and said it will give the board time to reckon with opposing views.

“Clearly there are students who do not feel safe in our schools because of the presence of police officers, but we’re also getting feedback from students, from parents, from staff members about the impact of suddenly removing these supports from students,” she said.

Trustee Jennifer Reddy also supported the review, saying it is crucial that it be done by an independent third party in order to “ensure a clear review process that can inform our next steps and decision making”

The review would seek input from local First Nations, Black Lives Matter Vancouver, parent groups, and students across the district.

A second motion to suspend the School Liaison Officer Program while the review is underway was defeated, with the board saying it needs more time to consult students, parents, and other groups.