SUMMERSIDE – Work is moving ahead to determine if a policy needs to be developed to place a police officer in Three Oaks Senior High School.
Charlottetown city council has approved funding to place police officers in Charlottetown Rural and Colonel Gray high schools on a full-time basis from Sept. 3 to Nov. 8, after that, the officers will return on an interim basis spending about four hours a week for the remainder of the first school term.
The program is designed to help improve the school climate dealing with drugs, bullying property damage and mischief.
Coun. Tina Mundy, chairman of Summerside city council’s police committee, said she would support investigating a similar program for Three Oaks Senior High School.
Mundy has met with Pam Montgomery, co-chair of the Three Oaks Parents council and is setting up meetings with the principals of Three Oaks, Athena Consolidated School and Summerside Intermediate School to get their input on the issue.
“I will be bringing the idea up at Monday’s (Aug. 19) city council meeting as part of my police committee report,” Mundy said. “I’m inviting concerned residents to either come to Monday’s council meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m., or contact me with their thoughts.”
She can be reached at 432-4068.
Mundy said there are variables that would have to be considered including the availability of an officer to undertake the duties involved and funding for the position.
Summerside deputy police chief Sinclair Walker said this is a positive initiative and it will take a co-operative effort on the part of the city along with the English School Board and the P.E.I. Home and School Association to make it happen.
Walker said council will need to address the issues of funding and manpower.
The deputy said the department did have an officer in the schools in the past.
“Back about four or five years ago, Sgt. Barry Arsenault did spend some time in the schools and that was very positive,” Walker said. “If (city council) want it and the school wants it and the public wants it, will look at it. We’ll get all the parties together and discuss it.”
English Schools Superintendent Cynthia Fleet said it will have to be determined on the local level if there is a need for a police presence at Three Oaks.
“I’m somewhat familiar with the two schools in Charlottetown because I’ve participated in meetings where there has been data provided around what the officers who have been in there have been dealing with,” she said. “Right now, people are asking the question is there a need to have someone in Three Oaks, how often and what level.”
Fleet said in the case of the schools in Charlottetown there had to be data provided that showed there were issues that they were dealing with within the school.
“They felt if a police officer was present in the schools it would probably stop things from escalating, it would provide immediate responses where necessary and probably prevent issues from arising. The one thing we’ve always seen with a liaison officer in the school is it develops a positive relationship with police in the community. We know a liaison officer in the schools promotes a positive relationship but I’m not sure how it began at Colonel Gray.”
Fleet said between the school and the chief of police came to an agreement.
“This was something completely outside of a school district initiative,” she said. “This was between the school and the city. I would say what’s happening in Summerside is that people, and I give them credit for the fact that they are not automatically saying that there’s a police officer needed in the school, are at this stage asking the question, is there one needed?”