Chief claims success with school officer program
Published Wednesday, November 18, 2009 1:34PM EST
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair claims a new report validates the school resource officer program, saying offences on school property have gone down even if perceived safety remains the same.
But he predicted it will get better and better.
"These things take time," Blair told reporters on Wednesday. "... You've got to build those relationships, those friendships, that eventually will create an environment where people will feel safer."
The program launched in the 2008-09 school year. It placed an officer whose full-time job was to patrol the hallways and engage with students. It started with 29 schools and expanded to more than 50 schools this year.
The report on the school resource officer (SRO) program is a joint effort of the police, the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
The evaluation found most students felt safe at their school and in the surrounding neighbourhood both before and after the SRO program, which ran from October 2008 to May 2009.
"Students who spoke informally to their SRO officer during the school year, and those who thought an SRO was a good idea were more likely to say they felt safe in school, while students who thought the program was a bad idea were more likely to say they did not feel safe," it said.
There was in increase in reporting when students had been victimized by the crime, but not when they had witnessed a crime.
"Students who thought the SRO was a good idea were more likely to report victimization, while those students who thought the SRO was a bad idea were more likely to report a crime they had witnessed," it said.
The report did say that perceived relationships between the police and students improved over the course of the school year.
"The proportion of students who felt the relationship between police and students was good or excellent, increased from 56 per cent to 67 per cent; those who thought the relationship was excellent almost doubled over the school year," it said.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Austin Delaney