The Greater Victoria Teachers Association is calling for school liaisons to come back. (File photo)

The Greater Victoria Teachers Association is calling for school liaisons to come back. (File photo)

Greater Victoria teachers want school liaison officers back

Teachers say there have been violent incidents at schools where preventative care is necessary

Schools need their police liaison officers back, Greater Victoria teachers say.

In a letter to the Township of Esquimalt and the Victoria Police Department, the Greater Victoria Teacher’s Association expressed a concern for their students since the school liaison officers were pulled from their duties in April so that they could be transferred to front line work.

“Already this school year there have been multiple incidents of police being called to our schools,” the letter reads. “Often these calls are in response to students in crisis.”

READ MORE: VicPD cuts school liaison program over budget impasse with Esquimalt

Jason Gammond, president of the GVTA said so far there have been three separate incidents where elementary school students had to be escorted from school properties by police due to violent behaviour. He could not confirm if the incidences all involved the same students.

READ MORE: Esquimalt denies VicPD budget request for the second time

“Here the police are unfamiliar to the student. Had they been familiar with that officer, maybe they would have been able to mitigate the situation,” Gammond said. “We see the police as a valuable resource, the fact that with their interactions with the students they can build relationships and trust. …We’d welcome them into the school and they’d bring a positive, friendly vibe that’s a great way to segue into more serious discussions.”

The decision to pull liaisons came from Victoria Police Chief Const. Del Manak after VicPD’s budget request for six more officers was turned down, twice, by the Esquimalt portion of the Victoria Police Board. The board consists of two lawyers, two mediators, two educators, a representative of the Royal Canadian Legion, a CRD representative, and municipal representation from Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.

Manak said his request for six more officers would help meet growing needs in the community. The board agreed to the 2018 budget request, with the exception of Desjardins who felt that any potential benefits from the $94,000 portion Esquimalt would pay were not clearly outlined.

READ MORE: VicPD seeks provincial review of need for more officers in wake of budget rejection

Since then, the decision has been put to the province for review, with the possibility of having it overturned. The VicPD 2019 provisional budget has been put forward to the board asking for an additional five officers and one civilian staff member.

READ MORE: Victoria Police department seeks to hire 12 new staff members

While Desjardins didn’t approve of the 2018 budget, she thought a different approach could have been taken by Manak, and was firm that the pulling of the liaison officers was not the fault of Esquimalt.

“That was an operational decision made by the chief,” she said. “The liaison position was a preventative role. As a Police Board member and Esquimalt council member, I expressed significant concern with taking away that position.”

Desjardins followed by saying having the GVTA letter directed to Esquimalt, and not Victoria, was a “misdirected” move, since the Township won’t be able to review any budget possibilities until March.

For teachers, the important matter isn’t political disagreements, but rather the significance of the role to youth.

“Manak said that they were redirecting staff to front line work, but there are 20,000 youth in the Victoria School District, this is the front line,” Gammond said. “It’s been three months so far. It’s hard to say what the long term ramifications are.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

sd61Township of EsquimaltVictoria Police Department

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read