The police of Toronto will be stationed in schools wearing their uniforms and armed for battle according to the police chief of the city. Bill Blair emphasized, ‘I believe in police officers in uniform. I want the people of Toronto to see their police. I want them to have a relationship with the entire police force that is based on trust and respect. And, my police officers are armed.” His comments appear to contradict the views of the School Board which thought police would be dressed in civilian attire and would offer a “casual and low-key” presence in the schools.
I have taught for 51 years and during that time taught children in the slums of Harlem to a rural California small town to a working class suburb in St. Louis. In every situation that entailed violent behavior on the part of a few students, the faculty was able to handle the situation because of their relationships with students. Despite all the talk about violence in schools the overwhelming majority of children in schools are safe. Actually, bullying is a greater terror than physical violence.
A wise teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn once calmly noted to me, “When our children enter the front door they are safe, when they depart, they are in danger.”
The Toronto school board should insist police not be in uniform and certainly not be carrying weapons. If the object is establishing positive relationships with students it will arise through informal interactions and not by the heavy handed presence of armed police.