VicPD chief reiterates calls to reinstate school police liaison officers

VicPD chief reiterates calls to reinstate school police liaison officers

After a statement from the Greater Victoria School District over the weekend reaffirming its stance to not allow school liaison officers in its schools, the Victoria Police chief has reiterated his calls to reinstate the program.

The Greater Victoria School District (SD61) released a letter stating it made its decision in 2023 after two-and-a-half years of engagement with local school trustees, police liaison officers, union members, the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, local First Nations, SD61 students and more.

“The board of education’s decision means that police will not be used to provide student services that should be provided by appropriately trained, qualified and regulated professionals such as district leadership, principals, teachers, educational assistants, counsellors, youth and family counsellors, social workers or health care professionals,” said the school district in a release Friday.

READ MORE: Greater Victoria school board resists calls to reinstate police officers in schools

Now, Del Manak, Victoria’s police chief, has reiterated his calls for the program to be reinstated and says rather than ending the program the school district should work with police to make it better.

“I continue to request that the SD61 Board listens to the concerns raised by the community and reinstate the SPLO program immediately, and request that we work together to find a path forward by creating a small sub-committee to revise the program in a way that addresses the concerns raised by the SD61 Board about those who don’t feel comfortable with officers in schools,” Manak said in a statement.

“Keeping students safe requires having trust and a relationship, and that relationship is built through regular, positive interactions, which is the basis of the SPLO program.”

Manak also says he has committed to reinstate the officers to the school liaison program which was redeployed to the front lines in 2018 due to Esquimalt council choosing to not fund an additional six officers for the department. This commitment is despite the department not reinstating the officers when Esquimalt was ordered to fund the six additional officers in 2019.

Saanich Police, Oak Bay Police and West Shore RCMP continued to provide school liaison officers to the Greater Victoria School District in their respective jurisdictions up until the school district ended the program in 2023.


Data on youth arrests since removal of program not readily available

Victoria Police, Saanich Police, Oak Bay Police and West Shore RCMP all cover areas serviced by the Greater Victoria School District.

CHEK News asked each of the departments for data on youth arrests leading up to and since the removal of school liaison officers, or data on gang recruitment, as police have been saying there has been an increase in gang recruitment in schools.

VicPD did not provide data on either. The department said that “the increase of gang recruitment activity towards youth is not a phenomenon that lends itself to data or statistics, and statistics really only tell the story after the fact.”

Instead the department is relying on people coming forward to share their stories.

“It may be helpful to note, especially with regard to the interest in statistics on youth arrests, that when youth come forward with information, or when counsellors or other service providers tell us information that has been disclosed to them about this type of activity, our focus is not on arresting the youth,” VicPD said in a statement.

“Our focus is on supporting the youth, and their families, in removing themselves from the situation, and on gathering information to help us take action against those who are recruiting them.”

Saanich Police shared that the number of files involving “chargeable youths” is roughly the same as where it was over the past two years, however, compared to the total number of files handled by the police agency the numbers are up.

In the 2021/2022 school year between September 21 and June 22 there were 26 files involving youth out of 694 total files. The following school year between Sept. 22 and June 23 there were 34 youth files out of 605 total files. This was the last school before the district remove the liaison officers.

So far this school year between Sept. 23 to April 21 there were 392 total files of which youth made up 24.

Oak Bay Police data shows youth arrests are down. From Sept. 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, there were five youth arrests out of 46 arrests. The next school year there were zero youth arrests of 36 arrests. At the end of this school year is when the district removed school liaison officers.

This school year, there has been one youth arrest out of 33 total arrests.

West Shore RCMP only provided data for 2023, and said it did not have data for 2024 available. However, it noted that it only oversees elementary schools for the Greater Victoria School District, and all of the middle and high schools are outside of its jurisdiction.

In 2023, West Shore RCMP was involved with cases that resulted in 83 charges against youth. Of those, 65 were criminal code offences, 17 were provincial statute offences and one was a federal charge.

“The above numbers do not include 40 youth who were diverted away from the Criminal Justice System and participated in West Shore Restorative Justice Forum,” West Shore RCMP said.

Reaction to calls for reinstatement

Recently, some have joined the calls for the reinstatement of the program. Including Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay councils.


Prior to the Greater Victoria School District’s removal of the officers, both the BC Human Rights Commissioner and the BC Teachers’ Federation recommended that school liaison officers be removed from schools.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!