The Greater Victoria Teachers Association is calling for school liaisons to come back. (File photo)

Greater Victoria teachers want school liaison officers back

Teachers say there have been violent incidents at schools where preventative care is necessary

Schools need their police liaison officers back, Greater Victoria teachers say.

In a letter to the Township of Esquimalt and the Victoria Police Department, the Greater Victoria Teacher’s Association expressed a concern for their students since the school liaison officers were pulled from their duties in April so that they could be transferred to front line work.

“Already this school year there have been multiple incidents of police being called to our schools,” the letter reads. “Often these calls are in response to students in crisis.”

READ MORE: VicPD cuts school liaison program over budget impasse with Esquimalt

Jason Gammond, president of the GVTA said so far there have been three separate incidents where elementary school students had to be escorted from school properties by police due to violent behaviour. He could not confirm if the incidences all involved the same students.

READ MORE: Esquimalt denies VicPD budget request for the second time

“Here the police are unfamiliar to the student. Had they been familiar with that officer, maybe they would have been able to mitigate the situation,” Gammond said. “We see the police as a valuable resource, the fact that with their interactions with the students they can build relationships and trust. …We’d welcome them into the school and they’d bring a positive, friendly vibe that’s a great way to segue into more serious discussions.”

The decision to pull liaisons came from Victoria Police Chief Const. Del Manak after VicPD’s budget request for six more officers was turned down, twice, by the Esquimalt portion of the Victoria Police Board. The board consists of two lawyers, two mediators, two educators, a representative of the Royal Canadian Legion, a CRD representative, and municipal representation from Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.

Manak said his request for six more officers would help meet growing needs in the community. The board agreed to the 2018 budget request, with the exception of Desjardins who felt that any potential benefits from the $94,000 portion Esquimalt would pay were not clearly outlined.

READ MORE: VicPD seeks provincial review of need for more officers in wake of budget rejection

Since then, the decision has been put to the province for review, with the possibility of having it overturned. The VicPD 2019 provisional budget has been put forward to the board asking for an additional five officers and one civilian staff member.

READ MORE: Victoria Police department seeks to hire 12 new staff members

While Desjardins didn’t approve of the 2018 budget, she thought a different approach could have been taken by Manak, and was firm that the pulling of the liaison officers was not the fault of Esquimalt.

“That was an operational decision made by the chief,” she said. “The liaison position was a preventative role. As a Police Board member and Esquimalt council member, I expressed significant concern with taking away that position.”

Desjardins followed by saying having the GVTA letter directed to Esquimalt, and not Victoria, was a “misdirected” move, since the Township won’t be able to review any budget possibilities until March.

For teachers, the important matter isn’t political disagreements, but rather the significance of the role to youth.

“Manak said that they were redirecting staff to front line work, but there are 20,000 youth in the Victoria School District, this is the front line,” Gammond said. “It’s been three months so far. It’s hard to say what the long term ramifications are.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

sd61Township of EsquimaltVictoria Police Department

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Langford man battling cancer honored with hot rod, motorcycle procession

Friends and family support Patrick O’Hara on his 73rd birthday

‘Seven baths in two days’: Homeless adjusting to life in hotels

Victoria passes motion to allow camping 24-7 in parks until June 25

Langford Fire calm mother and daughter after being trapped in elevator

Three-year-old girl given stuffed animal to calm nerves

Capital Regional District prepares to reopen regional campgrounds

Camping will look different at Island View, Sooke Potholes, Jordan River sites

Langford businesses can expand onto sidewalks, public spaces

Council passes new bylaw supporting business expansion

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

As SD84 schools look to reopen, Kyuquot and Zeballos opt out

Schools in Tahsis and Gold River will open on June 1, with 30 per cent students expected to come in

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Most Read