Canadian News

Hamilton votes to remove police from public schools

A program that brings officers into schools has been terminated for Hamilton’s public school board after a vote was held.

Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta
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A program that brings officers into schools has been terminated for Hamilton’s public school board after a vote was held, reports CBC News.

After a meeting that lasted close to five hours, a vote ended the police liaison program in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB)

A number of protestors also gathered for a sit-in that closed Main Street outside of Hamilton city hall.

The group began to cheer when the vote was announced.

Staff have now been asked by the board to help come up with a replacement program by collecting information on new ways to support the school.

The program did not post officers to schools, but allowed them to be called in for lockdown drills, drug sweeps, education sessions and investigations.

The program is described on the police website as providing a “proactive presence,” helping with investigations into school incidents and working with the school community to build relationships.

The program had been criticized by a group called HWDSB Kids Need Help, which was calling for the program to be canceled.

"THE MOTION TO TERMINATE THE POLICE PROGRAM HAS PASSED," tweeted the group.

"We did it. We won tonight," the group said in a followup tweet. "The fight for abolition continues."

According to a youth crime report for the Hamilton Police Service (HPS), there were 2,496 visits made by officers to schools last year along with 87 informal restorative justice incidents, 198 lockdown drills, 515 meetings and 838 investigations.

The report adds that 34 percent of last year's 559 youth calls were for school-related incidents.

Cam Galindo, trustee at HWDSB for Wards 9 and 10, joined in the protests and voted to end the program.

"I hear you, I support you, Black Lives Matter! Tonight, [HWDSB] trustees voted to terminate the police liaison program. But we still have a long way to go. Let's do this!” he tweeted.

Acclaimed Canadian author, Lawrence Hill is also among those against the program. Hill wrote a letter to the HWDSB calling for its cancellation.

"I ask you to pay attention to the protests that have arisen across Canada and around the world in recent weeks to oppose anti-Black violence," he wrote. "You have the opportunity to learn from this critical moment in Canadian and world history."

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