As beneficial as Const. Tim Keizer has been as a police officer in Colonel Gray High School, the city isn’t going to support such a program all on its own, council was told Monday.
Coun. Mitchell Tweel asked, during the March council meeting, if the police committee debated the merits of totally funding the school-based police officer on the basis of good community policing.
“We know it’s warranted, we know it’s justified, have we looked at that option?” said Tweel. “We have another high school in our city, that of Charlottetown Rural. I’m also a strong proponent of having a police officer stationed at that school.
“The entire community is on side so I’m wondering if we are ready to go to the next level of having a police officer at Charlottetown Rural?” asked Tweel.
“No, the city has not given any thought to funding the police officer positions unilaterally,” said Coun. David MacDonald, chair of the city’s protective services committee. “It’s the wrong message to send.”
MacDonald said that school-based police officers deal with files that originate from the justice system, health and social services and the education department.
“Those are provincial government responsibilities and the city is not going to be funding provincial government responsibilities,” said MacDonald.
“Have those departments agreed with the city that it is indeed their responsibility and are they prepared to put money on the table to pay for the police officer?” asked Tweel.
“They are not in full agreement with that assessment,” said MacDonald.
One provincial department supports the idea of joint funding, said MacDonald, but he would not say which one.
He said that a committee has been struck with representatives from the provincial departments and the city to meet over the summer to continue negotiations on the police-in-the-schools issue.
Meanwhile, Keizer remains at Colonel Gray thanks to community fundraising.
The pilot program that put Keizer full time in the school was to run just for the month of September, but in October funding was extended by the city to December. When that extension was granted, MacDonald said it would cost about $100,000 per year to fully fund the project in the future. In January the city said it will cost an additional$30,000 just to keep the pilot project running until June but neither the city nor the province has yet committed any money to that end.
Colonel Gray principal Kevin Whitrow told The Guardian recently that community groups and parents came to the school offering to raise funds to keep Keizer at the school to the end of this teaching year.
The school said it has not sought funding, but has been approached with offers.
Coun. Danny Redmond wanted to know about the $30,000 figure being quoted at this point in the debate.
What exactly is that money for, asked Redmond?
It is “salary dollars only,” said MacDonald, to pay for a replacement officer for regular patrols while the school officer is on the job.
“We are going to take one police officer out of the general circulation of police services for nine months every year so that person is going to have to be replaced,” said MacDonald.