Jeffers calls for suspension of school policing program

Kenneth Jeffers

Kenneth Jeffers, the lone black member of the Toronto Police Services Board, has called for the suspension of the School Resource Officer program after deputations by  several persons  who spoke at Tuesday’s board  meeting of the negative impact of police presence in schools.

Through the program, police officers are now  stationed in 75 schools across the city.

Speakers told the board the presence of armed, uniformed officers in the schools criminalized students from an early age and had a disproportionate impact on undocumented students and racialized youth, including black students.

They were responding to an item on the agenda at the meeting calling for a review of the School Resource Officer  program.

Jeffers who moved a motion to suspend the program,  suggested that tit (he program) needed “some serious checks and balances.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory also raised concerns about  the program and moved a motion calling for an independent review.

Tory said  the review should include an examination of  the program’s effectiveness, with particular attention paid to the impact on marginalized communities.

The mayor noted that concerns about the presence of armed offices in schools have also been raised by parents at recent public meetings on anti-Black racism.

“I am not sure that it’s working,” Tory said of the program.

Katie German, one of the persons who made a deputation at the meeting, said the appearance of a police car outside a school, day in and day out, sends the wrong message to both the community and to students, who she says do not understand why an officer is walking the halls in the first place.

German who has worked in schools in Rexdale and Scarborough, called for “immediate” independent input and oversight of the program.

Toronto Police Chief Saunders told the board that he was already in the process of arranging an independent review of the program. Two previous reviews, in 2009 and 211,  were done by Toronto police.

Noting that there were positive stories to be told, Saunders said that   the board had heard only one side of the debate and he hoped that all voices would be heard.

The motion to suspend the program was put over to next month’s meeting of the board.

In an interview with the Caribbean Camera after Tuesday’s board  meeting, Jeffers  dismissed the idea that the  School Resource  Officer program is aimed at establishing ‘ community engagement’  and  improving relations between the police and the young people in the schools.

“You can’t just walk into the school in a uniform and a gun on your hip and say ” I come to be your friend.’ That won’t fly.”

Several community activists have commented on the board’s decision to put off Jeffer’s motion to suspend the school policing program.


Voicing her disappointment, Silvia Argentina Arauz,, co-chair of the Latinx, Afro Latin -America, Abya Yala  Education Network (LEAN) said.” we are trying to build safety for our children and youth, and the School Resource Officer Program is making them vulnerable to more violence. The longer the program remains active, the more students it continues to hurt.”


LeRoi Newbold, a Black Lives Matter  (BLM)  Toronto organizer, said ” the community, teachers, parents and youth are speaking out and the Toronto District School Board is listening, but the Toronto Police Services Board is not.”

“Everyone came to the table with real concerns about the well-being of some of our youngest and most vulnerable populations, and no action. It’s time for the Toronto Police Services Board to be accountable to the public it purports to serve,” he added.

BLM Toronto recently staged a “walkout,” in response to a York University report that revealed that  a large number of black students in the Greater Toronto Area are streamed into applied instead of academic programs. and they are suspended at substantially higher rates than other students.

The advocacy group  demanded six specific changes  to what they say is “anti-black racism” in the education system.

One of those was to eliminate the school policing program.