Despite importance of the role, Ministry of Justice says no
Alberta’s police commission has recently asked the government for more money to aid school resource officers. The Alberta government have since turned down that request.
School resource officers are sworn-in police officers who not only help to enforce the law in schools, but are also available to students that are going through difficult times. These officers act as positive role models and some even coach sports teams at their schools.
Const. Jason Singh is a school resource officer from St. Francis Xavier High School in Edmonton.
“I know for my school, it’s pretty much a revolving door in and out of my office of kids,” Const. Singh said.
Const. Singh said that students come to him about issues that range from stolen phones to even relationship problems and family issues.
“Pretty much anything and everything,” Const. Singh said.
The Alberta Association of Police Governance (AAPG) represents the boards that provide civilian oversight of police forces across the province. At the recent AAPG annual meeting, a motion was passed asking for financial support for school resource officers.
Rolf Traichel, the association’s chair, says that major city police forces have the money and resources to put these school resource officers in every school. That’s not the same for some smaller communities, which is why the extra funding is necessary.
The Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General responded to this request through a letter: “Given the current fiscal climate of restraint the province is not planning to provide financial assistance in the foreseeable future.”
Natalie Kenrick, a public affairs officer with the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General, said the provincial government does deliver a considerable amount of funding to cities for policing. Approximately $464 million is delivered annually.
“Municipalities and police services are responsible for deciding how to allocate [those] resources to best serve their community,” Kenrick said.
Photo by Melissa Kadey
Traichel understands the position the Ministry is coming from and their budgetary concerns, but doesn’t agree with the decision.
“Now it goes back to the local police services in these communities,” Traichel said. “They will need to come up with creative ways to create a school resource officer position.”
Traichel said that even without government financial support there are still ways to get more officers into schools.
“Of course government is one way to fund this,” Traichel said. “[But], there are lots of other ways to fund programs like this.”
“We [of course] encourage our members to reach out to other community groups and other community organizations that have been very supportive of police services.”