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Peel police suspend school officer program in order to have ‘dialogue’ with community

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The Peel Regional Police service is suspending its school resource officer (SRO) program in a bid to have “meaningful dialogue with diverse stakeholders” regarding its effectiveness.

The program, which was established more than 20 years ago, has been aimed at developing relationships with students and addressing issues on school property, Chief Nishan Duraiappah said in a statement announcing the decision on Tuesday.

“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,” Duraiappah said.

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The statement said a consultation process will begin this summer and a report on the work is expected late this year.

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Duraiappah said the consultation process will include “as many stakeholders and partners as possible,” including the Black Community Action Network of Peel, school board staff, students, and academics.

Spokespeople for both the Peel District School Board and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board said they support the move to pause the program.

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“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 SROs and other police officers are present in Peel schools,” said PDSB interim director of education Jaspal Gill.

“PRP’s action to pause the SRO program is necessary.”