School resource officers make students feel safer, new report finds

Edmonton’s School Resource Officer Program has received a passing grade in a new report that was presented to Catholic School Trustees on Wednesday.

The report, which was created by three criminologists over the last year-and-a-half, shows that the program is supported by students, parents, and staff members alike.

More than 80 per cent of students surveyed for the report said the program should remain in place. Two-thirds of students said it made them feel safer, but that number was lower among Black and Indigenous students.

More than 84 per cent of parents and 94 per cent of staff members also said the program should stay in place.

The report recommended improving the officer selection and training process to make sure the officerswork with kids and teens, and that officers should limit the amount of time they wear a uniform and carry a weapon in school.

It also said schools need to do a better job collecting data on the program to monitor trends and potential problems.

Officials with Edmonton Catholic Schools saidthey will continue with the program.

“That is our commitment moving forward and working with Chief McFee and his team,” said Deputy Superintendent Timothy Cusack. “With our trustees, all of our stakeholders to look at these recommendations, which we’re looking at very seriously to enact on all of them to improve our SRO program on a go forward basis.”

“As you’ve heard from our researchers, everything can always be better. And I think they’d tell you that on most things that they look through. And we’re committed to working with the school division to do that,” said Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee.

The program is currently suspended in Edmonton Public Schools, but the same researchers are currently working on a report for the board.

EPSB will make a decision on whether to re-implement the program based on the results of the report, which is expected in the fall. 

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