A majority of Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) trustees voted to remove police liaison officers from public schools in the district on Monday evening.
The motion, which was prompted by widespread Black Lives Matter protests last year, passed with 13 votes in favour and only one vote against.
Despite insistence by trustees who supported the notion that students felt unsafe with the presence of police in Ottawa schools, a report by the Office of the Human Rights and Equity Advisor paints a more complicated picture.
According to the report, a majority of community members reported that they believed that having police in schools makes the environment safer. Only 38% of people surveyed by the OSCD disagreed on whether police presence in schools makes schools a safer place.
“Positive interactions with police at school were reported by some Indigneous survey respondents. When they were asked to describe what made the interaction positive, the descriptions focused on the demeanor of the police officer — smiling, being friendly and polite, being professional and supporting,” the report claimed.
“Some participants reinforced the idea that exposure to positive interactions with the police will lead to positive relationships between students and the police.”
OCDSB trustee Lyra Evans authored the motion, which also called on the board to issue a formal apology to students and community members who were allegedly harmed by the police presence.
According to the motion, the board will also adopt “an intersectional and anti-racism analysis lens” for all future policies.
The OCDSB is not the only school board which has taken steps to do away with police liaison programs.
In May, the Vancouver School Board also voted 8-1 to cancel its school liaison officer initiative. The school liaison program will be cancelled effective immediately at the end of June 2021.