Calgary, AB,

Next phase of School Resource Officer Program Review announced

The Calgary Police Service (CPS) is taking further steps in the second phase of our independent review of the School Resource Officer Program.

This review came forward as a result of public consultation in 2020 and was one of the action items that we committed to, as part of our response to City Council’s June 15, 2020 Notice of Motion – Calgary’s commitment to anti-racism.

The School Resource Officer Program is one element in our broader strategy of identifying all of our touchpoints with the youth in our community, to understand, adapt and enhance where our efforts are best focused. By looking at how we build trust and understanding through each interaction, program and approach that we apply, together with our partners, we will build a comprehensive and meaningful approach to our work. 

Phase one focused on an independent evaluation that included public engagement through an online survey, webinars, interviews, email submissions and a web portal for student input. The engagement yielded 1,900 responses from students, parents, teachers, administrators and CPS officers. This engagement was done with the support of Engage Calgary and Action Dignity.

The findings from this report showed that while overall the program has positive outcomes, some students from the Black, Indigenous and racialized communities, do experience fear, discomfort, and anxiety around police, and report unequal treatment by officers.

Key recommendations from the independent review conducted by Argyle PR, include:

  • Provide more officers to focus on relationship building.
  • Provide specialized training with a focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Provide officer supports such as job shadowing and mentoring.
  • Build accountability mechanisms for trust and transparency.
  • Establish an advisory group.
  • Improve communications (role clarity/awareness, share success stories).
  • Establish a continuous feedback loop (metrics and reporting).
  • Make program adjustments and continuous curriculum updates.
  • Watch other jurisdictions.
  • Collaborate with community partners.

The findings of this independent review were shared with stakeholder groups which include, the CPS External Anti-Racism Action Committee, Calgary Police Commission (CPC) Anti-Racism Action Sub-committee, School Boards, Calgary Police Youth Foundation, CPS Youth Advisory Board and the CPS External Diversity Superboard.

“We heard clearly from these valuable stakeholders that further consultation and a collaborative approach, with an emphasis on views of racialized and marginalized students, is needed to transform the presence of police in schools” says Deputy Chief Katie McLellan of the Calgary Police Service Bureau of Service and Community Support. “CPS believes strongly that our commitment to anti-racism means that we must work hand in hand with the community we serve, not walk away from the opportunities and efforts where we can build meaningful relationships, and the School Resource Officer Program is an example of that.”

In the next phase of creating a design plan for the future of the program, three key areas of focus will include:

1. Reengaging with students (Q1 and Q2, 2022)

The CPS will work with the CPC Anti-Racism Committee, the External Anti-Racism Action Committee, the CPS Youth Advisory Board and school boards to develop a plan to reach impacted students.

2. Holding a roundtable session with all stakeholders to create an action plan (Q2, 2022)

The roundtable session will:

  • Be inclusive of all stakeholders, including groups identified by the CPC.
  • Be facilitated by an external facilitator.
  • Have all stakeholders share their perspectives and experiences.
  • Have all stakeholders listen to what others have to say.
  • Discuss the issues identified in the Argyle Report.
  • Develop an Action Plan together.
  • Appoint an oversight board.

3. Appoint a special oversight board to oversee implementation of the action plan (Q3 and Q4, 2022)

The special oversight board will:

  • Function as an extension of the roundtable session to manage questions and issues that may arise during implementation.
  • Will exist for the duration of the SRO program transformation.
  • Be comprised of stakeholders external to the CPS, school boards, and other partner agencies.
  • Oversee the implementation of the collaborative action plan.
  • Provide status updates to CPS and its partners during implementation.

In each of these focus areas we recognize that emphasis must be placed on hearing the concerns of community members, in order to transform CPS presence in schools in a way that is fair, inclusive and supportive of all students.

We remain committed to sharing all findings of this next phase with the community. The Argyle Report is available here.