NOTE: This post was updated to take out reference to the Youth Enhanced Deployment (YED) model. This approach is no longer in use.
Many of you have emailed asking for my stance on uniformed police in schools. This is also known as the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. As always, I value your views. Please reach out using the contact form on this website if you have any further questions. I’m also always happy to book a chat with you via zoom.
I do not support reinstating the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. I do not support having uniformed police in Edmonton Public Schools as part of the regular school day. However, I do want to acknowledge the frustrations that come with this choice. As a candidate, I have heard frustrations from some district staff and a youth worker. As (past) community league president, I’ve heard from members of my own community. There are aspects of that program that people really appreciated.
As we continue to move forward, it will be important to see if we can address those bits that people are missing about the SRO program in a non-police uniformed way. I’m happy to take your thoughts and suggestions.
Here is a bit more information. The School Resource Officer was a community-based initiative in place from 1979 until the 2019/2020 school year. Under this program, police officers were present in schools. These police officers engaged with youth, provided education, and worked to divert some criminal situations occurring in schools away from the legal system. Examples include taking part in after school events, teaching classes in personal safety, the D.A.R.E program, and assisting in issues as needed. Prominent academics in this field note that the efficacy of the SRO program, its relevance and its utility are dependent on who you are and your background. We need to focus our efforts on supporting marginalized students with programs that help them flourish. We also must recognize the relationship between marginalization and criminalization.
Currently, EPSB is employing safety coaches instead of uniformed police. These safety coaches often have a social work background and a connection to the community. I want schools where every student feels safe and welcome. Marginalized students were telling us that wasn’t the case for them when the SRO program was in place. The new model of safety coaches will hopefully address these concerns.
Should voters give me the privilege of serving as their next EPSB Trustee in Ward F, I will work to listen to diverse viewpoints on tough issues. I commit to working with you to find positive solutions. I will do this while ensuring my priority is on building a strong sense of community, belonging, equity and safety in our schools.
Here is some further reading, if you are interested:
New Model Replaces SRO Program in Edmonton Public Schools
EPSB Anti-Racism and Equity Policy