Uniformed police officers are no longer going to be appearing at public schools in Vancouver after trustees just recently voted to end the school liaison officer program.
They are not the only jurisdiction to make this change, New Westminster has also ended their school liaison officer program recently as well. Who knows what other BC regions might follow and choose to do the same.
While there are some who might cheer this move, others suggest that the officer liaison program had many benefits it provided to the school and community.
From trying to foster positive relationships with students to being a deterrent to gangs in schools, feelings are mixed on whether or not this might be a good idea.
But now Vancouver joins the move to also say goodbye to the public school liaison programs that had officers sometimes roaming the halls and helping to de-escalate certain situations that might happen at school.
The Vancouver School Board decided to finally make the move and end the public school liaison program after the program had been put under review previously, stemming from a broad discussion of police accountability that’s taken place.
Among the reasons to see an end to the program reportedly included the negative presence that the program might have on BIPOC students, as well as other marginalized students. Some might have viewed those officers as a threat rather than a helping hand. It could be a students first experience with law enforcement at the school, but it might not be a good one for them.
With the program leaving now some are worried that it might mean more violence in schools, along with other crime, drugs, and a less safe environment all around.
Having those officers in schools can yield a much quicker response if one is required at the school, cutting down on that necessary response time that could be life-saving. Those officers also provided resource connections to students that might be wanting to learn more about getting into that occupation, or doing volunteer work with police departments in their communities.
But not everyone might have had a positive experience and maybe not all parents wanted them at the school, even though many no doubt feel they make the place safer. It is a controversial program to say the least, especially in light of police accountability discussions going on right now on an international level in the U.S. and elsewhere.
It might have been an idea that was tossed around for awhile but the motion finally did pass.
It isn’t clear if this program or some altered version of it might be brought back in the future. But for now there are many who are calling attention to the potential negative effects that might be linked with the program in schools. School officials, parents, and others, want to ensure that students feel safe in those environments.