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Richmond RCMP school liaison program stays — for now

Vancouver and New Westminster school boards voted this week to end their police liaison programs
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The role of police in Richmond schools will be looked at more closely after consultation with the community.

There are no plans in Richmond — yet — to follow the lead of Vancouver and get rid of the RCMP School Liaison Officer program.

However, the role of police in schools will be looked at more closely after further consultation with the community.

Last year, the Richmond Board of Education established the Diversity and Anti-Racism Working Group, which aims to launch broad consultation with school communities in the district, said Sandra Nixon, Board of Education chair.

“Specifically, (the group is) looking at where there might be concerns regarding racism that may be in programming or more structurally, anywhere in the district,” she said, adding the board expects the consultation to pay particular attention to the voices and experiences of the BIPOC community.

“We’re hoping the consultation will be able to create those safe spaces where people can talk about their experiences and name issues.”

The working group is currently developing the consultation process and timeline with third-party consultants, said Nixon.

David Sadler, school district spokesperson, said the selection of the third party still needs to be finalized and the consultation work will likely go into the fall. 

The conversations in Vancouver and New Westminster around the role of police in schools are also on the district’s radar, said Nixon.

On Monday night, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) voted to put an end to its officer liaison program with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD).

The program has been under review for nearly a year, following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn. Concerns were raised that the presence of officers in schools has a negative impact on BIPOC and marginalized students. The VSB had an independent third party consult with students to examine the issue.

Then, on Tuesday, the New Westminster school board voted to end its liaison officer program with that city’s police department.

In Richmond School District, the working group will make recommendations back to the school board, based on the findings of the independent third party consultation.

“We do expect that in those recommendations, there would be recommendations to review particular programs, possibly the school liaison officer program,” Nixon said. She added that any future discussions about the program would involve students, staff and stakeholders.

—With files from The Canadian Press