Public school trustee seeks report on police roles and cost in schools
EDMONTON -- A trustee with Edmonton public schools is asking for a detailed report that outlines the role and cost of Edmonton police in public schools.
Ward G Trustee Bridget Stirling is asking for the report after receiving dozens of emails questioning the role of school resource officers.
“Things like arrest and detention of students. How is search conducted of students’ property? Or of their cell phones,” said Stirling.
Stirling said she wants to know how the governance and reporting structures work, how data is collected and what the demographics are in order to understand how the program is actually functioning.
“How many arrests? How many fines? How many convictions? All of that. How many of the interventions are criminal in nature.”
“We haven’t had a substantial report on the program since I’ve been on the board and I think it’s really important that we as governors ask these questions, especially now.”
School Resource Officers (SRO) have been in Edmonton Public Schools for more than 40 years and Edmonton Catholic Schools for more than 35 years. Stirling has heard constituents commend them, she has also heard complaints.
“I’ve also heard concerns where some students are targeted based on their race, culture, various other aspects of identity and also how it affects students with disabilities as well.”
One city councilor has also expressed interest in the information the report might produce.
“It may be wise for council to ask for the same information and discuss it around the same time,” said councilor Andrew Knack.
CTV News Edmonton spoke with an SRO who believes by being in the school he can offer security, education, enforcement and can also build trust with youth.
“So we’re not right away saying ‘we’re going to arrest this student, we’re going to take him back to the police station in handcuffs, we’re charge him,’ our first option is ‘let’s look at why this student committed that crime, why they did that, and how can we fix that in a positive way?’,” said Constable Joshua Maeda, an SRO.
COVID-19 is keeping Maeda outside the classroom but he believes he has an important role to play inside, particularly now.
“One of the worst things that I find for me from this lockdown, being out of the schools, is I cannot be in there right now having an open discussion with those social studies classrooms that are watching what’s going on in society and having lots of questions and wondering what it’s like here.”
There is no set date as to when administration may produce a report.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Sarah Plowman