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Letter: New West school board missed the mark on police liaison decision

Resident disappointed with how New Westminster trustees handled the issue of child and youth liaison officers in schools
The New Westminster school board missed the mark on its decision about NWPD officers in schools, this letter writer says.


As a resident of New Westminster, it was disappointing to read about the removal of police officers from New West schools.

My issue isn’t that they were removed, but the process in which it took place and the tone of the quotes from the trustees in the articles. 

Removing them abruptly without due process sets a dangerous precedent. 

In particular, Amal Rana is quoted as saying: “Even if a few students feel unsafe, it’s critical that we address that and remove police from schools immediately.” To me, a student feeling unsafe is a valid concern, but what is the specific issue? What is the specific reason why the student feels unsafe? Maybe it has nothing to do directly with the police liaison officer in question. 

Also, school trustee Ms. Ansari states that she is a Muslim woman of colour and, as such, she never leaves her home without ID. Really? Last time I checked, the NWPD is made up of male and female officers from various ethnic backgrounds. 

Ms. Ansari also insinuates that racial profiling is an issue across the community. That it’s the norm. My question to her: Can you offer a specific example of this happening to you? 

Wake up, trustees. We are not the United States of America. Stop letting what you see on American TV dictate your opinion. 

I have had two instances where I interacted with New West police. One was when a car ran a red light at Eighth Avenue and McBride. The officer on scene was professional and caring. In fact, his first question before anything else was "Are you OK?"

My second interaction was when I woke up on a Sunday morning to notice that a thief had stolen my licence plates and replaced them with another set. This time, it was just me and my newborn at home. The officer that responded was professional, polite and helpful — even offering advice on how to avoid this in the future. 

At the end of the day, the school trustees missed the mark on this one. They robbed the kids in New West schools an opportunity to grow comfortable in the presence of police and have a positive association. Besides, it’s a lot harder to hate someone when you know them. 

Nick Di Fabio, New Westminster