By Annie Arnone
Toronto police chief Mark Saunders has requested Ryerson to be involved in conducting a review of the Embattled School Resource Officer program, following the controversy surrounding police presence in Toronto schools.
Saunders stated in a letter to the police board that the purpose of the review is to “assess the current implementation and environment of the [Toronto School Resource Officer] SRO program, taking into consideration the variety of viewpoints of and experiences with the program.”
He added that Ryerson is required to follow the principles of inclusivity, equity and safety while conducting the review.
The presence of armed officers within schools has been a point of contention and most recently in May, 36 police officers were assigned to 75 schools and were ultimately requested to leave following backlash from some school workers, parents and activists.
The Toronto Star reported in May that some racialized students felt harassed and surveilled with the presence of officers in their school. “Undocumented students were threatened by officers inquiring about their citizenship status,” the report reads.
The decision to eliminate the program was deferred in the last police board meeting, back in June. According to Saunders’ letter, the last review of the program was conducted in 2011 and an academic-level review has never been completed.
The review conducted by Ryerson will cost $80,000, which is covered by Toronto police, and is estimated to be completed by June 2018.
The decision to appoint Ryerson for the review will take place at a Toronto police board meeting on Aug. 24.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly implied that the review has been approved. In fact, the vote for approval will take place on the Aug. 24 meeting. The Eyeopener regrets this error