Bringing Back Uniformed Police Officers In Schools

I do appreciate the importance of always looking at something with a fresh set of eyes. We should always be looking at how we can do things better.  The desire to improve should also come with some reverence for how we got here.  Without that understanding we tend to tear down rather than build upon.

This is happening in so many ways now that you can’t help but think we are moving backwards. 

Take for example the decision from some Ontario school boards to remove uniformed officers from visiting or working within schools.  The rationale is that the police uniform is a negative emotional trigger for people and communities who have faced police brutality and mistreatment. I do not doubt their fear and concern.  Children from war torn countries have also have legitimate feelings of fear and anxiety seeing people in anything that resembles a military uniform.

So, one might make the simple call to remove the source of that fear from the safe space schools hope to create for all students.   Avoidance is not how problems are solved, however. Students need to see uniformed officers in non – threatening situations and interact with them personally, so negative associations can be undone, and trust established.  It is also important for officers to interact with all members of the community in these same environments to dismantle any of their own prejudice.

Having liaison uniformed officers in schools is a great way to make that happen and was a very successful program in building bridges.  An enlightened perspective has now made officers more aware of the emotional baggage their uniforms carry for some.  Bringing in officers with this understanding is an important step forward. Removing the program takes us backward.

We all desire to change the world – but I don’t believe I have ever seen anything made better when it is done with disregard for the past and a desire reprisal.  We can do change better than that.

By Gregory Cawsey