Report recommends pausing Student Resource Officer program

Posted On Monday September 27, 2021

Education Director Mark Fisher has offered a sincere apology to students – particularly Indigenous, Black and Youths of Colour – who have felt harmed or traumatized by the presence of police in Thames Valley schools.

“Our top priority is to create learning environments where students feel supported and safe,” said Director Fisher. “I want to apologize to any student who feels we have failed to fulfill our duty to them.” 

A major community-based review of police officers in schools – known as the School Resource Officer (SRO) program – indicates the presence of police has had negative impacts for some students. 

“While the review found value in the program, it’s also clear that presence of School Resource Officers can be triggering and make it hard for some students to be at school,” said Director Fisher.

The review’s findings will be presented to Trustees on Tuesday along with a recommendation to pause the SRO program for a minimum of one year to allow for further study.

“It is clear that changes must be made to the program and the report recommends community members and police continue to work together with us to determine whether the concerns raised can be rectified so that the program can resume,” said Director Fisher.

The extensive trauma-informed review was launched in October 2020 after Trustees passed a motion to “engage in extensive consultation regarding the School Resource Officers (SROs) program.”

As part of the review, feedback was collected from students, parents, and graduates across the Thames Valley District School Board and London Catholic District School Board through a community-wide survey. 

The recommendation to pause the program was unanimously endorsed by the Leadership Team that oversaw the review — a group comprised of leaders from Black, Indigenous, and other community members of Colour, the Thames Valley District School Board and London Catholic District School Board, and representatives from all area police services. 

“Thames Valley is committed to making the necessary changes to attitudes and practices in our system that enable racism, discrimination and bias,” said Director Fisher. “We can and must do better.”

Comments from the SRO Review Leadership Team

“The recommendations suggested in the summary report are vital and necessary in implementing a program that honours and respects the concerns and wishes of the students and their communities.”
George Johnson, Black Youth Connect

“I can assure you we are committed to improvement as we work together with our community partners and continue to build stronger relationships for the future.”
Dean Croker, Detachment Commander, Middlesex OPP 

“Many of our young people have been mistreated. We heard this in the feedback. That their trauma is real. I support the pause in the SRO program and the work of creating together, led by the voices of Indigenous, Black and Youth of Colour, a new, better way of having youth and police interact.”
Al Day, Executive Director, N’Amerind Friendship Centre

“The results of the survey are not surprising. I believe the SRO program is important and that the program should continue in the schools. However, further training would be required. I strongly support the recommendations outlined in the SRO Program Review.”
Dr. Oscar V. Correia, Education Coordinator, Munsee Delaware Nation

“In order to see the sort of change that is required, we need to delve much deeper into what this committee has started; more conversations need to be had, and more truths, some more difficult than others, need to be faced and accepted.”
Maya Mark, Parent and Advocate for the Black Community 

“We need to listen to the voices of those who have been negatively impacted by police, particularly young people from BIPOC communities. We believe that by working together, we can create better ways to serve our school communities which is vital for improved relationships moving forward.”
Steve Williams, Chief of Police, London Police Services 

“I recognize there is clearly a substantiated need for change. In order to move forward, we need to develop a truly transparent relationship, that builds confidence in the program and certainly in all students that are in the schools.
Chris Herridge, Chief, St. Thomas Police Service

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