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Role of police in schools to be reviewed in Vancouver, Victoria

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Investigators say they arrested Justin Dorey, 34, on Sunday, who is now facing arson charges. Francis Vachon / The Canadian Press

School trustees in both Vancouver and Victoria voted on Monday night to review the role of police liaison officers in schools.

In Victoria, the motion directed the school board’s equity committee to discuss the role of the officers with the school community, including racialized, Indigenous and LGBTQ2 staff, parents and students.

READ MORE: Thousands gather in Victoria for rally against anti-Black racism

Staff were asked to gather any concerns and develop recommendations on what changes should be made.

“Whether they are racialized, or Indigenous or perhaps a member of a marginalized community, their experiences are going to be very different,” said Victoria trustee Rob Paynter, who brought forward the motion.

“I want to understand what those experiences are and really be able to move forward with a clear understanding the specific concerns of what these members of the community have.”

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READ MORE: Police union head ‘disappointed’ by motion on police presence in Vancouver schools

 

Last week, the Vancouver Elementary Teachers’ Association voted in favor to consider banning police from the classroom in the wake of the anti-Black racism protests around the world following the death of George Floyd in the U.S.

Both sets of trustees voted against removing the liaison officers until the reviews are complete.

Vancouver mayor calls for review of all police forces in the province
Vancouver mayor calls for review of all police forces in the province

Vancouver trustee Fraser Ballantyne said the program serves an important purpose, sharing one example of when liaison officers helped rescue a number of girls who had been recruited into prostitution.

“The proactive and preventative work that they have done in schools is unprecedented,” Ballantyne said.

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“If we don’t have that structure still in our schools, what the heck are we going to do? Who is going to look after the infrastructure of the safety of the students?”