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Deadly McNally attack 'begs the question' if officers should be back in schools: police assoc.

A move to pull uniformed police officers out of Edmonton Public Schools should be reconsidered following the deadly attack on a 16-year-old student, the leader of the police association argues.

Karanveer Sahota was stabbed outside of McNally High School on April 8.

He died of his injuries a week later, and Wednesday's autopsy determined a stab wound to the chest was the cause of death.

On Friday, the Edmonton Police Service announced second-degree murder charges against a 17-year-old female, two 16-year-old males, two 15-year-old males and two 14-year-old males.

"My heart does go out to the family and to the community for this, but it does beg the question of should the SRO program be looked at again because of the positive effects it can have," Staff Sgt. Michael Elliott told CTV News Edmonton.

In spring 2019, the board "paused" its school resource officer program (SRO) that had been active since 1979. Edmonton Catholic Schools kept officers in their schools.

"I can't tell you if the SRO would have prevented this incident from occurring," Elliott allowed.

"But what I can tell you is that I do know that the SROs, when working in the schools have received notices, quite frequently, unfortunately, that students will come up, slip notes, contact them on Reddit, tell them in private that there is going to be an incident after school, please be on the lookout."

Sahota's family says they do not believe SROs would have prevented the attack.


Instead of SROs, the board hired non-uniformed staff members it called "safety coaches" to work with students in three schools. They "focus on trauma-informed practices, restorative practices and building relationships in the school and community."

The SRO program remains paused, a spokesperson said.

"Currently, the School Resource Officer program research is ongoing to take an objective look at the lived experiences of our Black, Indigenous and People of Colour students. A final report is expected in November," Megan Normandeau wrote in a statement to CTV News Edmonton.

A local criminologist is studying the effectiveness of SROs in schools.

“We know, for example, that perceptions of, and experiences with, SRO officers is largely shaped by peoples social identities,” explained Temitope Oriola from the University of Alberta.

He's found that a small majority of people in Edmonton support SRO programs, but those against were strong in their opposition.

“Popularity is not the same as harmlessness. It is of no use to deny the reality that there are those who have positive interactions with SRO officers. The issue is those positive interactions are not well distributed,” Oriola explained.

Elliott said it's difficult to find exact statistics on how much the SRO program has impacted violence in local schools. Not only has the pandemic drastically changed attendance since the program was paused, but a lot of the work the officers do is "proactive."

"This has been the benefit of the SRO: being there to stop potential incidents from occurring. So they have stopped in the past, and I know that's part of the relationships that SROs build with their students and staffing," he said.


Monica Binns said she does not believe SROs would have prevented the attack on her cousin.

"I don't support that. I don't think having police at the school would have made a difference," she said. "Children don't feel comfortable approaching them on a good day."

Instead, Binns said having a more diverse and representative teaching staff, community representatives or liaisons, and counsellors of different racial backgrounds at the school may have made a difference.

"If there's somebody from the community there on staff as a teacher, as a counsellor, as a liaison, as community support, they see themselves in that person," Binns added.

"They see that person in authority as being on their side and they can have those conversations with those people," she said. "I think that is what needs to happen."

With files from CTV News' Joe Scarpelli and Bill Fortier Top Stories

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