Sunday, May 28, 2017

Do armed, uniformed cops belong in Toronto high schools?

When the Toronto police board met this week, a lesser-known police initiative called the School Resource Officer program was a minor item buried deep on a packed agenda — and nowhere near the chopping block.

But by the end of the monthly board meeting, the 36 uniform cops assigned to work in 75 schools across the city had nearly been pulled out of class, the program suddenly on the brink of suspension pending consultation with school leaders and community members.

The abrupt turn of events was prompted by impassioned presentations by a group of educators and researchers, who detailed what they said was the detrimental — and in some cases dangerous — impact of cops walking the halls alongside students.

Racialized students felt harassed and surveilled, the board heard. Undocumented students were threatened by officers inquiring about their citizenship status. The presence of an officer criminalizes situations once handled by teachers or administrators, creating a “school to prison pipeline.”

The accounts of the nearly decade-old program directly contradicted the glowing letter that prompted the discussion in the first place — a letter from Toronto Catholic District School Board chair Angela Kennedy calling the program “a cornerstone of our commitment to safe school communities.”  (more...)


Toronto's smiling fascism in action?

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