Winnipeg police will continue to have a presence at some Winnipeg schools after city council voted to extend the program Wednesday.
In a 13-3 vote, councillors voted to keep school resource officers in schools that choose to have them.
Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman pointed out the program is administered through the school divisions and that the divisions are ultimately in charge of deciding whether they want it.
“There are much broader debates about policing that we should continue to have at council, they should continue to be raised, of course, at the police board.”
Some local grassroots groups have been pushing for the removal of officers in schools, in light of increasing media coverage of police violence around the world.
Couns. Vivian Santos, Cindy Gilroy and Sherri Rollins voted against the program, saying they wanted more time for community consultation.
“Today we’re being asked by over 100 community based groups to review,” said Rollins.
The group Police Free Schools Winnipeg started a petition to ask councillors to remove School Resource Officers from schools.
“We are demanding that Winnipeg City Council conduct a review of SRO programs across Canada,” the petition reads, “specifically cities that recently chose to terminate or review their SRO programs, to inform their decision to vote to continue the SRO program or not.”
The group says that Vancouver, Edmonton, Hamilton and Toronto have all suspended or are re-evaluating their programs.
The Winnipeg police service sent out a statement Wednesday after the vote.
“The Winnipeg Police Service would like to acknowledge and thank citizens for their input regarding the continuation of the School Resource Officer program.
“In collaboration with school divisions, we will continue to listen to concerns and evaluate how to best deliver a program to Winnipeg schools that serves the needs of all students, families, and staff in the communities they serve. We believe police officers have a vital role to play in helping children succeed, and invite the community to engage with us in making that happen.”
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