Looks to PEIFM for support
SUMMERSIDE - Citing costs and lack of manpower, city council made it clear at a police committee meeting Tuesday night, it doesn’t want the sole responsibility of backing a plan for a student resource officer (SRO) in Summerside schools.
The idea was proposed last August by Councillor Tina Mundy, chairwoman of the city’s police services committee, based on the success experienced with a similar program in Charlottetown.
A report was compiled to determine the feasibility of having a police officer embedded in the Summerside school system.
One of those interviewed in the report was Police Chief David Poirier.
Poirier said the main issue is manpower.
In his response to the plan Poirier said, “In my opinion, the only way this program will work successfully is if we are back up to full compliment and part-time officers.”
“At the present time there is absolutely not enough money in our police services budget to address the issue of an SRO in our schools,” he said. “I also feel that it would be futile to approach the province for funding, as Charlottetown PD (police department) learned first hand that this didn’t work.”
CAO Bob Ashley also didn’t support the city taking on the task citing fiscal challenges already being faced by the city.
“The reality faced by the province and municipalities alike is financial strain or even hardship,” he said. “Given the already stretched resources of Summerside’s police force and the fiscal challenges of the city, my recommendations concurs with Chief Poirier.”
The city, instead, will be submitting a resolution to the Federation of P.E.I. of Municipalities to begin discussions with the province, on behalf of all municipalities, on a policy issue or program research and development of SRO’s in schools.
Mundy argued that in Charlottetown said the benefits of having an SRO went beyond making their schools a safer learning environment for students.
She said there was an impact on the crime rate in the community as well.
“I see it more as crime prevention,” she said.
Councillor Frank Costa said the city has never received a request from the schools for an SRO.
Mundy responded that when the issue was brought up with Three Oaks Senior High School principal Nicole Haire, that she favoured it.
Costa said he wasn’t convinced that this was a good use of city finances.
Deputy Mayor Bruce MacDougall said this is something that the provincial government through the Department of Education should be dealing with.
He said the province’s lack of attention to the issue is another sign of “downloading” responsibilities to municipalities.
Council did support going putting a resolution to the P.E.I. F.M. to work with the province and promote a three-pronged approach, involving the P.E.I. province and the city to come up with a plan.
The police services committee, along with Ashley and Poirier will be drafting a resolution to bring to the P.E.I.F.M. annual meeting sent for Kensington later this year.