Expense, lack of police manpower cited as main issues
Summerside city hall
SUMMERSIDE — Citing costs and lack of manpower, city council made it clear at a police committee meeting Tuesday that it doesn’t want the sole responsibility of putting a police officer in Summerside schools.
The idea was proposed last August by Coun. Tina Mundy, chairwoman of the city’s police services committee, based on the success experienced with a similar program in Charlottetown.
A report was compiled to determine the feasibility of stationing a student resource officer (SRO) in the Summerside school system.
One of those interviewed in the report was Police Chief David Poirier.
Poirier said the main issue is manpower.
“In my opinion, the only way this program will work successfully is if we are back up to full complement (of full-) and part-time officers,” the chief said.
“At the present time, there is absolutely not enough money in our police services budget to address the issue of an SRO in our schools,” he said. “I also feel that it would be futile to approach the province for funding, as Charlottetown (police department) learned first-hand that this didn’t work.”
The city’s chief administrative officer, Bob Ashley, also didn’t support the city taking on the task, citing fiscal challenges.
" . . . it would be futile to approach the province for funding, as Charlottetown (police department) learned first-hand that this didn’t work.” Summerside Chief David Poirier
“The reality faced by the province and municipalities alike is financial strain or even hardship,” he said. “Given the already stretched resources of Summerside’s police force and the fiscal challenges of the city, my recommendation concurs with Chief Poirier.”
The city, instead, will be submitting a resolution to the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities to begin discussions with the province, on behalf of all municipalities, on a policy issue or program research and development of SROs in schools.
Mundy argued that in Charlottetown the benefits of having an SRO went beyond making schools safer.
She said there was an impact on the crime rate in the community as well.
“I see it more as crime prevention,” she said.
Coun. Frank Costa noted the city has never received a request from the schools for an SRO.
Deputy Mayor Bruce MacDougall said the issue is something the provincial government through the Department of Education should be dealing with.