Petition to demand a report reviewing SRO programs across Canada

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On September 30th, Winnipeg’s city council is scheduled to vote on a motion to renew contracts with 19 School Resource Officers (SROs) across six school divisions. 

This vote was delayed in July because councilors felt the motion was rushed and the contract hadn't been adequately debated. In our view, it still hasn't been adequately debated because community perspectives from the people most affected are lacking. 

Teachers, parents, students, and community members have all expressed concern about police presence in schools. In the spirit of due diligence, we are demanding that Winnipeg City Council conduct a review of SRO programs across Canada, specifically cities that recently chose to terminate or review their SRO programs, to inform their decision to vote to continue the SRO program or not.

School boards in Toronto, Vancouver, Hamilton, and Edmonton all recently decided to suspend or reevaluate their SRO programs. Why is Winnipeg investing more money into this program while other big cities across Canada are divesting? Schools are facing significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are receiving meager supports from the province. The roughly $1.5 million contributed by the province and school divisions could be much more effectively used to hire additional teachers or EAs, improve cleaning, provide PPE, or myriad other desperately needed supplies for schools.

Though proponents of the program claim that they have not seen or heard of the negative impacts of police in schools, this does not mean that they do not exist, as demonstrated by the stories shared by Police Free Schools Winnipeg on their website and social media. The administration’s assumption that the program is wholly good reinforces our assertion that the program’s impacts have not been adequately examined to account for those negatively impacted by the program. 

Amid the global movement to re-examine the role of police in society, and the precedent set by other Canadian cities, we know that examining Winnipeg’s SRO program with expert and community input through an equity lense is a first step towards creating actual safety for students and educators.