Trustee raises concerns over general public visiting police office in schools

This is a road best left untravelled

To the Expositor:

Re: Board space options provide hope of saving declining rural schools (Manitoulin West Recorder, May 12, Page 1)

As your elected trustee on the Rainbow District School Board I feel it imperative to share with you my feelings in regards to the suggestion by the OPP, who expressed interest in having a community liaison office or space for their officer who would be exclusive to the schools.

I myself as a retired OPP officer, and, to my knowledge, this position continues to this day (with the present community services officer) visited educational facilities on the Island/Espanola on a regular basis for the sole purpose of liaising with students and building trust with our youth. Please note, this relationship with the police was available only for the students/staff of the school. Members of the public, or those with no reason to visit a school did not have an open invitation but rather attend the local police office.

I hope this current relationship (officers available in the school to students/staff only) is protected as seriously as a law/rule/regulation.

The term usually used is “store front policing.” I am concerned that parolees, criminals out on bail, sex deviates, or violent persons who are required to report to police as a term of release will roam our schools. This is not good, it is dangerous. The doors in our schools are locked now for a reason, there are cameras that monitor hallways and outdoor yards. There is good reason for this protecting our kids.

Do not depend on a judge/lawyer when releasing or requesting the release of the criminal element on bail/parole to direct/mandate schools are not to be used for reporting purposes. You must know our judicial system  protects and covets the criminal element from being placed in undue hardship. A criminal could claim violation of charter of rights because he/she had to drive to Little Current as opposed to attending a police “community liaison” office. As well, you will be sold some ideas to circumvent this happening, ie only criminals with non-violent offences are allowed to attend.  No, absolutely not.

While a well meaning offer by the police, this is not worth the risk. Schools are for educating our youth only.  I am concerned about many government or private entities that are eligible to rent space in our schools, but the criminal element indeed scares me.

I have shared this with the director of education drawing on my 30 years of policing but I see the idea still lives on.

Be aware, do not travel this road and make yourself heard in your community through your Parent Council or write the Rainbow Board for my attention. 

Larry Killens, trustee
South Baymouth