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New Westminster schools forge new relationship with NWPD

It's been more than a year since the SD40 board voted to eliminate police liaison officers in schools. The issue returns to the school board table May 10.
NWPD car
The New Westminster school district is setting out its plans for a new relationship with the NWPD, in the aftermath of a 2021 decision to remove child and youth liaison officers from schools.

How do New Westminster schools interact with police in the absence of child and youth liaison officers in schools?

Families can get a look at the answer during the school board’s education committee meeting coming tomorrow night (Tuesday, May 10).

School District 40 will be discussing its transition plan for a new relationship with the New Westminster Police Department, in the aftermath of the board’s April 2021 decision to cancel the school liaison officer program.

Under the previous child and youth liaison officer (CYLO) program, three NWPD officers were assigned to liaison duties in local schools: one at New Westminster Secondary School, one for the district’s elementary and middle schools, and one for its alternate programs and additional community support. Salaries were paid by the NWPD.

Since that program was cancelled, the district has created a transition plan to establish communication protocols for emergencies, lockdowns, critical incidents and violence threat risk assessments. The plan also lays out a referral process to the gang prevention unit, as needed, for students who may be at risk of or engaging in gang activity. It also covers ways to request optional NWPD information sessions/presentations for students and staff.

The decision to remove school liaison officers stirred up controversy when the debates hit the board table last year. Now it’s come to the forefront again with discussions of student concerns over gender-based harassment at New Westminster Secondary School.

New Westminster DPAC pushes for answers on police in schools

New Westminster district parent advisory council reps spoke to the issue at the board’s most recent meeting April 26.

DPAC chair Kathleen Carlsen told trustees student safety is paramount.

“Gender-based violence needs to be addressed now,” she said. “What is happening at the high school is absolutely unacceptable. … These students need more help, and they need it from adults they can trust.”

Carlsen said students need more counsellors, especially without police liaison officers on site.

“With the absence of the children and youth liaison officer program, the gap needs to be filled immediately,” she said.

DPAC rep Laura Kwong said student safety is at the forefront of issues brought to the group by parents and caregivers.

“The gap left by the removal of the CYLO program in New West schools has been acute, we felt, in our middle schools and especially in our high school,” she said.

Kwong said parents need to hear a detailed plan of how student needs will be met in the absence of the liaison officers and what roles will replace them.

The issue is on the agenda for the Tuesday, May 10 education committee meeting. Meetings are held virtually, via Webex, and are open to the public. You can find a meeting link online.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
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