Home News by Region Langford RCMP liaison in SD62 schools: Inspector’s comments, parent survey

RCMP liaison in SD62 schools: Inspector’s comments, parent survey

West Shore RCMP Inspector July 25: "I'm optimistic and hopeful that we don't see any changes to the school liaison program in this school district."

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Summer 2023 survey for parents about RCMP school liaison program in SD62 schools.

Wednesday August 9, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated August 15, 2023]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

READER COMMENTS WELCOME: Email to letters@islandsocialtrends.com

The idea of having police liaison officers in public schools in the west shore was a topic of discussion at last month’s City of Langford Community Advisory Committee meeting.

At the July 25 committee meeting, West Shore RCMP Inspector and Operations Officer Stephen Rose provided some comments on his detachment’s participation in what has been a long-standing program of RCMP officers serving as liaison to the Sooke School District (SD62) community of schools in the west shore.

Location of SD62 schools:

city of langford, council, july 2023
City of Langford council meeting, July 17, 2023. [livestream]

All but one of the SD62 schools in the west shore are located in Langford and Colwood; there is one in Metchosin.

The other side of SD62’s large geographical footprint is in Sooke and the Juan de Fuca area (with several schools within the District of Sooke as well as one in Port Renfrew), where Sooke RCMP would have jurisdiction.

RCMP Inspector at committee:

Inspector Rose was at the meeting to, overall, be part of the discussion and answer committee questions about the City of Langford’s pending revision of the city’s RCMP priorities. That included comments on mental health calls and bylaw related incidents in parks.

But discussion around school liaison officers in SD62 schools was already a hot topic, follow a discussion and motion at Langford’s regular council meeting on July 17. The council discussion was prompted by a letter from another municipality (provided in official correspondence) which indicated support for police liaison visits in schools in the neighbouring school district (SD61 – Greater Victoria).

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West Shore RCMP Inspector Rose attended the City of Langford Community Advisory Committee meeting on July 25, 2023. [Island Social Trends]

During public input at the July 25 committee meeting — in response to questions from Mary Brooke (editor of Island Social Trends) as a resident of Langford — about the recent pull-out of school liaison offers in SD61 and how the program will be handled going forward in SD62 (west shore) schools.

“Youth are a priority for our detachment. It currently forms part of the annual performance plan for 2022-23,” said Inspector Rose. “We have a very lively community policing section which has school liaison officers — also called school resource officers — that operate within the schools within our school district.”

“That was the status quo up until a recent decision that prompted the removal of our school liaison officer from schools in View Royal, bound by the neighbouring school district,” the RCMP inspector said. “As it stands, with the existing policy, we have no intent on changing our current school liaison program, as we move into the school year 2023-24.”

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West Shore RCMP Inspector Stephen Rose addressed media outside the detachment on July 17, 2023. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

“By all accounts, that program is strongly supported by the existing chair and board. And that is a program that we want to maintain. It’s critically important that the police have a relationship with youth. That’s where we have young people form their values and ethics and belief systems. It’s founded by their parents and community and then fostered within the school environment where police can play a very positive and valuable role,” said Inspector Rose.

When the West Shore RCMP announced their rollout of mental health officers for the west shore community — and that those officers would not be in traditional RCMP uniforms when out on those calls with mental health support professionals — will that same practice be followed for in-school visits by the liaison officers?

MapleLine Business Centre, printing, west shore

“Our current approach is that we wear the uniform that the situation dictates. Some of our police officers enter the school in full working uniform,” said West Shore RCMP Inspector Rose.

“Some go in in sweat pants and a hoodie depending on what the activity and reason is for their attendance. If it’s to go and play a game of floor hockey or basketball game we wear a shorts and hoodie. If we’re going there to present or speak to a Law 12 class they’ll probably be in traditional uniform. The unit has that existing flexibility when it comes to how they dress when they go and achieve their mandate day to day.”

He continued: “I’m optimistic and hopeful that we don’t see any changes to the school liaison program in this school district, that has certainly happened next door.”

rcmp, survey, sd62
Ad to promote survey about school liaison police officers in SD62 schools, as posted in social media. [Unpaid ad here]

Then local research was mentioned: “In an effort to be proactive, we recently partnered with a student at a local university whose research in that topic and is attempting to reach out to community partners, namely the schools, the staff, parents, and gain their perspectives on the school liaison program. I certainly know that it’s well received currently. I would argue that even in the neighbouring jurisdiction it was well received, as evidenced by the publicly available material. However, that decision was made and we hope it doesn’t repeat itself here.”

Parent survey:

A survey was announced on August 9 on the X social media platform (formerly Twitter), pitching to parents in SD62 for their input on school liaison officers. Not all parents use X or other social media — and it appears the ad was not placed in regular news portal — and many families are away, so the survey reach might be limited.

The survey is being done by one student at Royal Roads University (RRU), to “understand the impact of School Liaison Officers at your Childs school”. Cam St Pierre is a student who is completing his Justice Studies bachelor’s degree in the School of Humanitarian Studies at RRU.

The survey “aims to explore the effectiveness and impacts of School Liaison Officer programs in SD62 schools”, states West Shore RCMP online today.

The questionnaire refers to “individuals’ opinions and experiences with School Liaison Officers in School District 62”, as stated in the survey introduction.

The survey is comprised of an introduction and 11 questions (including demographics questions). It takes about five minutes if taking time to read the introduction: Survey Link

  • SD62 points out that the school district is not involved with this research “by an individual outside of the school district” (that would required approval from the SD62 Board), under Policy D-310).
  • According to the survey introduction and the RRU professor for this project, the data collected by the survey will be destroyed after August 20, 2023. Only a summary of findings will be included in the report to West Shore RCMP (who are designated as the ‘sponsor’ for this RRU undergrad paper).
mitzi dean, mla, constituency, ad

About school liaison officers:

As stated in the survey introduction:

“School Liaison Officers are law enforcement professionals who serve to bridge the gap between the police department and educational institutions through community-oriented policing services. Their primary role is to promote safety and security within schools, and to foster positive relationships between students, staff, and the police.”

“School Liaison Officers seek to establish a sense of trust and communication between students and the police, fostering a safe and inclusive environment that promotes the well-being and success of all individuals within the school community.”

SD62 comments on the liaison program:

Sooke School District 62 (SD62) says that the main purpose of school liaison officers is to “build relationships with children and youth in our school communities”.

“Through positive contact with students, they are able to form relationships with children and youth as they progress through the school system and into adulthood,” says SD62 communications rep Kristen McGillivray.

“The focus of the programming is on education and prevention which can look like playing floor hockey to banking bannock to checking in with vulnerable students who are in need of extra supports,” says McGillivray.

As well, SD62 through its Safe Schools Team, works closely with RCMP school liaison officers and school administration.

RCMP officesr are responsible for enforcement of the Criminal Code, federal and provincial statutes including the School Act.

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Island Social Trends (following in the footsteps of its genesis publications MapleLine Magazine 2008-2010, Sooke Voice News 2011-2013, and West Shore Voice News 2014-2020) delivers socioeconomic news insights about life on the west shore of south Vancouver Island. Published by Brookeline Publishing House Inc.

mary p brooke, headshot, july 2023
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke, July 2021.

All news is posted at IslandSocialTrends.ca . 

Editor Mary P Brooke has steered the publication series for 15 years. In that time period she has covered SD62 news up close at the board level since 2014, and Langford politics since 2017. She now reports with the BC Legislative Press Gallery, having covered the COVID pandemic daily in 2020 and 2021 and broader BC news since 2022.

Ms Brooke was nominated in 2023 for the Jack Webster Foundation’s Shelley Fralic Award for contributing to the community through journalism.

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