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VPD statement on school board vote

Vancouver – Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Wilson of the Vancouver Police Department released the following statement today in response to the Vancouver School Board’s decision on the School Liaison program.

“The VPD is very disappointed about the political decision by Vancouver School Board trustees to remove School Liaison Officers from Vancouver schools.

“For nearly fifty years, VPD’s SLOs have been an important resource for students in Vancouver. Our specially-trained officers have helped youth stay safe in schools, introduced extra programming for at-risk youth, and helped divert young people who come into conflict with the law from the criminal justice system to more appropriate resolutions.

“Although recent surveys have shown that the vast majority of students in Vancouver support having SLOs in schools due to positive experiences with them, we know there is work to do with gaining the trust and confidence of some students. In recent months, the VPD strongly declared its desire to make changes to the SLO program, in collaboration with all stakeholders, to address the concerns that have been raised.

“VPD will now assess next steps and decide when and how the officers currently dedicated to Vancouver’s schools will be redeployed to other areas of the VPD to address already existing resourcing gaps.

“When officers are reassigned to other areas of the VPD, including full time roles for front-line officers in patrol and detectives for investigations, they will no longer develop and run programs for students like athletic and safety-focused initiatives. VPD programs for Vancouver youth that are run by VPD officers, independent of SLOs – like the VPD Cadets and New Kids program – will continue.

“This decision leaves a big gap in relationship building between officers, students and staff and also decreases safety for youth and staff in schools. In addition, the decision impacts the direct interaction and mentorship police provide to keep youth safe – like keeping them away from gangs and educating them on staying safe online.

“The VPD greatly values its existing relationships with students, teachers and staff in Vancouver’s schools and with administration officials with the Vancouver School District. The decision represents a big loss and will have huge safety implications now and in the future.”

-Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Wilson, VPD