Police presence stepped up for eight Catholic schools

  • September 12, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - Eight police officers will be stationed at Catholic high schools across Toronto starting this October.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board said police officers would be placed at Archbishop Romero, Bishop Marroco/Thomas Merton, Cardinal Newman, Don Bosco, James Cardinal McGuigan, Mary Ward, Michael Power/St. Joseph and St. Patrick Catholic High Schools.

In May, the Toronto District School Board approved a recommendation by a safety panel, which had been investigating the high profile murder of 15-year-old student Jordan Manners in a Toronto public high school last year, to have police presence in the public school system.

Nineteen police officers will also be stationed at Toronto public high schools.

Back in November, the public and Catholic boards signed a protocol with Toronto Police to promote a safe school environment and strengthen police and school partnerships.

“Our goal is to make schools safe,” said Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair in a statement. “The school resource officers will take a proactive approach with our schools, to build healthy and trusting relationships.”

The police officers will work with students to develop action plans and programs to reduce victimization and improve reporting and preventing crime and violence, Blair said.

Catherine Leblanc-Miller, chair of the Toronto Catholic District School Board, said the new initiative goes beyond the issue of security. She said the partnership between the board and Toronto Police is about promoting the mentorship role of police.

According to Toronto Police spokesperson Mark Pugash, this program continues what’s already been taking place in Toronto high schools. Instead of having officers who come to the schools once or twice a week for education programs, there would be ongoing police presence at the central schools, he told The Catholic Register in a previous interview.

“We wanted to get very much away from notion that this was about stigmatizing schools or singling schools out,” Leblanc-Miller said.

Leblanc-Miller said students would be educated about cyberbullying, date rape and gambling.

The eight Catholic schools were chosen because of their central location which will enable police officers to respond to the needs of nearby schools and communities, according to the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s safe schools superintendent Paul Crawford.

There will be an opportunity for open communication between police, students, administrators, parents and other interested parties, Crawford said, including evaluation surveys by the board and Toronto Police.

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