Toronto

Police Services Board reviewing controversial program that puts armed officers in Toronto schools

Police Chief Mark Saunders urged caution before suspending the program, which stations uniformed officers in Toronto-area schools. Earlier this month, Black Lives Matter Toronto demanded that the officers be pulled out of schools.

Chief Mark Saunders urged caution before suspending program as Black Lives Matter Toronto has demanded

Police Chief Mark Saunders urged caution before suspending the program, which stations uniformed officers in Toronto-area schools. (CBC News)

The Police Services Board has voted to review a controversial program that stations armed police officers in schools — but they're waiting until next month's meeting to hear from more people on whether to suspend the School Resource Officers initiative in the wake of demands from Black Lives Matter Toronto.

Following Tuesday's meeting, Chief Mark Saunders urged caution before suspending the program.

"It's important to listen to everybody ... if we are going to get this right, we have to listen to everybody. We're moving towards a third party review, an academic review," he said.

An interim report of that review, conducted by Ryerson University, will be submitted to the police board in August.

'It has targeted black kids, Indigenous kids'

Desmond Cole, an outspoken critic of having police in schools, had been hoping for a different outcome from the board vote.

"It's very clear this program has to end," he said.

"It has targeted black kids, Indigenous kids. It's targeted kids with disabilities, it's targeted kids without immigration status who are afraid to even walk through the halls because they don't want to have a confrontation with a police officer," said Cole.

Earlier this month, Black Lives Matter Toronto staged a school walkout to lay out several demands for changes targeting anti-black racism in the education system.

One of those demands was to eliminate the School Resource Officers program.

Officers have been stationed at schools since 2008, which was funded by a federal grant.

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