We do not have the dollars- Sherry
SUMMERSIDE – Summerside city council will not get any financial help from the province to place a student resource officer in Three Oaks Senior High School.
Justice Minister Janice Sherry
Justice Minister Janice Sherry said the province does not have the money to fund such a position and she is not convinced that a police officer in the school is the right approach.
“There is support happening now and at the present time both the premier and the minister of education have said we do not have the dollars to place a police officer in every school across the province,” she said. “Municipalities receive their policing funding from the province and within that envelope municipalities have to prioritize, look at where the needs and the priorities are within policing, and make those decisions based upon the pressures and the needs of their community.”
Summerside city council opted not to finance the position on its own and instead is going to the P.E.I. Federation of Municipalities for help to convince the province to become involved.
Sherry said the justice system already provides services for youth at risk.
“From a justice perspective, when there are children who are identified as being at risk, we have outreach workers who work with those kids and their families in order to give the support they require when they’re most at risk,” the minister said.
“If there is a young person who has had a minor run-in with justice, we also have the youth justice workers who work with those kids to identify their needs, find out what some of the issues are and work with their families in the hope that that support will intercede and end any possible run-ins with the law,” she said.
Sherry said across the province there are liaison officers in every policing agency that have an assignment to the schools and how that works is different in every community. She said in Kensington the role of the liaison officer involved visiting the school just about every day.
“In other places, it’s a relationship between a specific person at the school and the policing agency and they call upon them for support when it’s needed,” the minister said.
The city was basing its program on one that received a lot of attention at Colonel Gray High School.
But Sherry said the jury is still out on how well that program went.
“There’s not been any report or indicators given to us to say here’s what we found happened as a result,” the minister said. “From the broad strokes they felt it was very successful but if you probe into that to find out what the officer accomplished in the school, I don’t think we’ve got concrete points.”
Sherry said there is another question that still remains.
“If there is an additional resource required, is it a police officer or is it another type of resource worker?” she asked. “We need to identify the issues and make sure we have the best support for success for the kids moving forward. I’m not sure that a police officer in every school has been identified as the thing that’s going to help most. We’ll continue to work with the services that we are now providing through justice and deal with any requests that come forward when they happen.”