Immediately End Toronto’s School Resource Officer Program
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Ten years ago, the Toronto Police exploited a tragedy in order to put armed and uniformed police officers (called School Resource Officers or SROs) in 22 Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and 8 Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) schools without any community consultation.
Ten years later there are now 36 officers patrolling 75 schools, and in each one of those schools our most marginalized youth—our Black, Indigenous, racialized, and undocumented children and youth —are forced to learn while under the surveillance of the very people who target them with violence and harassment in our communities.
In the words of one student, Rayon:
“On a day-to-day basis, the police harass, bully, and brutalize people from our communities and get away without being held to account for their actions. How can we accept having police in our schools to ‘build relations’ with us if they are getting away with daily brutality and sometimes murder in our communities?”
From the beginning of the SRO program, parents, students, educators, and community members have raised concerns:
For ten years they have told board officials and politicians that the presence of SROs criminalizes our Black, Indigenous, and racialized youth, supercharging the school-to-prison pipeline.
For ten years far too many of our children have been treated as threats and made unsafe in their schools, as armed and uniformed officers create a culture of fear and intimidation within their learning spaces.
For ten years the Toronto Police have been collecting and sharing sensitive data about young people while simultaneously speaking of community engagement and relationship building.
For ten years SROs have collaborated with the Canada Border Services Agency, violating the TDSB’s own “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, which is meant to protect undocumented students..
All of those concerns have been ignored—until now.
In the wake of Black Lives Matter – Toronto’s movement to hold the Toronto Police Services accountable for their systemic anti-Black racism, the Toronto Police Services Board is calling for a “study” of the SRO program to determine its fate.
But the time for studies is over. SRO programs are not effective for creating safety. They are not effective for community engagement.
In the words of Sandy Hudson:
“We know what’s wrong. You know what’s wrong. Politicians and policy makers know what’s wrong. The problems have been studied to death.”
Indeed, this May marks the ten-year anniversary of the killing of Jordan Manners at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute in Toronto. In response to that tragedy, the School Community Safety Advisory Panel spent months meeting with students, parents, community groups, and educators to make recommendations about how to make our schools the safe and nurturing spaces our children deserve. The panel concluded that what our children need are more Child and Youth Workers, more guidance counsellors, more conflict resolution programs, more culturally relevant curriculum, more student leadership opportunities, more time for teachers to build relationships with students. Not police.
We are therefore calling on the Toronto Police Services, the Toronto District School Board, and the Toronto Catholic District School Board to immediately cancel the School Resource Officer program.
Created by: Education Not Incarceration & Black Lives Matter - Toronto
#NoMoreSROs #EducationNotIncareration #eniTO #blacklivesmatter
BlackLivesMatter - Toronto: Through Blackcentric organizing, community mobilizing, and art, works to revolutionize social services, eliminate policing and incarceration, and decolonize our communities. Through coalition building, solidarity work, and a Black-centric network, we work to destroy/dismantle antiblack racism and encourage the creation of new models of social organization. BLMTO is here to support healing justice, the liberation of our communities, families, and the freedom to love and self-determine.
Education Not Incarceration is a team of youth, students, parents/caregivers, educators, researchers, journalists, and community organizers. We have come together to address the school-to-prison pipeline, which criminalizes students and disproportionately impacts those who are Black, Indigenous and racialized. We are committed to challenging educational policies and practices that compromise the safety and quality of learning environments for young people, as well as the equity and integrity of the education system as a whole. These include a reliance on punitive disciplinary measures such as suspension and expulsion, police presence in schools, increased surveillance and intelligence gathering, excessive use of force, racial profiling, and collusion with the Canada Border Services Agency. As such, we are committed to pursuing constructive and holistic alternatives that transform our schools into places where all students can thrive.
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