Vancouver public schools kick out cops after consultant report

30 April 2021 2 min. read
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The Vancouver School Board has decided to end its school liaison officer program with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD). The school board’s trustees on Monday voted 8-1 to end the five-decade arrangement, following a review of the program by consulting firm Argyle PR.

The decision followed months of debate on the utility of having uniformed police officers assigned to each of the city’s 17 public high schools, as well as questions about the program’s impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of racialized students.

Argyle’s review of the police liaison program included input from more than 1,900 community members – with more than half of respondents being current or former students.

Vancouver public schools kick out cops after consultant report

Headquartered in Toronto, Argyle provides consulting services in corporate communications & public affairs, public engagement, digital marketing, and media & crisis training, among other areas.

Of the survey respondents who were students, 58% said they were familiar with the police program, and a little more than half agreed it helped keep schools safe. However, nearly two-thirds of Black students disagreed with the assessment that the program helped keep schools safe.

Neighbouring New Westminster School Board also this week voted to scrap their youth liaison officer program.

The Toronto District School Board cancelled a similar police liaison program in 2017.

The Vancouver School Board’s motion to cancel the program noted it would continue to collaborate with Vancouver police on communication protocols to deal with emergencies and violent threats, as well as seek to create new "trauma-informed approaches" to working with youth.

The Vancouver Police Department was critical of the school board’s decision. “This decision leaves a big gap in relationship-building between officers, students, and staff and also decreases safety for youth and staff in schools,” said Fiona Wilson, deputy chief constable. “In addition, the decision impacts the direct interaction and mentorship police provide to keep youth safe – like keeping them away from gangs and educating them on staying safe online.”