Pressure on Victoria trustees to return school police liaison officers

Pressure on Victoria trustees to return school police liaison officers

It was a unanimous vote by Oak Bay’s council, with Mayor Kevin Murdoch calling the vote on the issue of school police liaison officers.

“I will call the question, all those in favour? Opposed? None? That carries. I will write a letter,” he said.

The councillors are asking the Greater Victoria School Board trustees to reinstate the School Police Liaison Program.

Since the board cancelled the program in 2023, parents, staff, and police have lobbied to bring it back.

But at the official launch of the newly renovated Victoria High School, Nicole Duncan, chair of the Greater Victoria School District, would not commit.

“We will issue a statement next week. But what I can also add, I suppose, is that we are continuing to meet with our partners and our staff partners,” Duncan said.

In 2021, before trustees cancelled the program, the School District 61 Police Liaison Committee surveyed 4,000 students, parents, and teachers.

Dr. Lisa Gunderson said the results showed a majority of those surveyed supported school police liaison officers.

Its results found that 45 per cent had positive interactions with police liaison officers. Forty per cent had no interaction, with five per cent experiencing negative interactions.

But 60 per cent want the program back, 12 per cent want it back with changes, and 15 per cent want it to stay out of schools.

“I think some of the key findings are many groups there is a very positive, and positive reaction to the SPLOs (liaison officers). That is their experience,” Gunderson said.

She also said that with school liaison police officers gone from schools, a critical relationship is now missing.

“I have to be hopeful that the trustees are looking at our region. Our data, and also thinking about ways of the students who are being impacted,” Gunderson said.

B.C.’s education minister, Rachna Singh, said she wants to see the program back.

“The safety of students and staff is paramount. And it has been communicated to the board, the decision that was made by the board of our expectation. That they listen to all the concerns that have been raised,” Singh said.

The issue will be discussed at a meeting in May with school trustees and the Victoria Police Board.

WATCH: Parents hold rally outside SD61 offices to call for return of school liaison officers

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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