Peel Regional Police (PRP) has committed to pausing its School Resource Officer (SRO) program. The pause is intended to create meaningful dialogue with diverse stakeholders and to consult with community members, around the efficacy of such programming.
"Peel Regional Police established the SRO program more than 20 years ago to foster relationships with students, administrators and staff, and to address complaints occurring on school board property," says Nishan Duraiappah, Chief of Peel Regional Police. "The mandate was given by the community then, and it remained the same over time. The needs of the community and school environments have changed and advanced to a level where the service delivery requires a vital review of the program and a complete overhaul of the system that oversees the SRO program."
Peel Police will begin its comprehensive consultation process this summer and expects to report on the process in winter 2020. Says Chief Duraiappah, "We recognize that the consultative process needs the allocation of the requisite time and resources to ensure an equitable and trustworthy method. This will take thoughtful planning with as many stakeholders and partners as possible, including but not limited to, Black Community Action Network (BCAN), MOYO Community Health Services, school board staff, students, families, academics and advocates to collectively determine the next steps for PRP."
The Peel District School Board (PDSB) supports PRP's decision to pause its SRO program and consult with community. Notes PDSB Interim Director of Education Jaspal Gill, "We have been assured that Peel Regional Police will engage in a consultation process with stakeholders, including Peel District School Board staff and the diverse communities we serve, in particular members of the Black, African and Caribbean communities. We have heard from members of our school communities, in particular those who identify as Black and Indigenous, that they do not feel safe when SRO's and other police officers are present in Peel schools. PRP's action to pause the SRO program is necessary."
"The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board fully supports a fulsome review of the SRO program," says DPCDSB Director of Education Marianne Mazzorato. "We have been assured that authentic stakeholder consultation will be a key component of this review and we are pleased that all voices will have the opportunity to provide feedback."
"Community partnerships are essential in identifying the needs, developing ideas and offering perspectives for the service delivery that will not only continue to support the community, but will also strengthen the relationships that currently exist with youth, and encourage the development of new engagements with the community to promote overall well-being," says Marc Andrews, Deputy Chief of Community Policing Operations. "As we move forward in establishing the Community Safety and Well-Being Model in the region, we will continue to keep the public apprised of our progress through regular communications. Peel Police acknowledges the need for systemic change to support our essential mandate of keeping our communities safe."
Adds PDSB Supervisor Bruce Rodrigues, "Once a model for youth engagement is established by Peel Police, the board will consult with students, staff, families and the diverse communities we serve, in particular Black, African and Caribbean communities, to determine next steps. If we determine that the new model does not meet the needs of the students and families we serve, we will not move ahead. We are committed to listening to and working alongside the communities we serve to eliminate anti-Black racism and discriminatory practices in Peel schools and work sites."
DPCDSB Director of Education Marianne Mazzorato adds, "Our hope is that the program can truly support our goal to provide safe, caring and inclusive schools that uphold the dignity and respect of all students and staff."
Information about the consultation process will be shared by Peel Regional Police as we progress.