Categorized | Featured, National News

PM Defends Putting Police In Schools -FNM Says Move Regressive

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Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday staunchly defended his government’s decision to reinstate the school-based policing initiative despite mounting criticisms by the Free National Movement (FNM).

“Students have been killed and we clearly believe based on research, that until such time as we have proper security in the schools, with people properly trained to be able to deal with conflict resolutions and mediation disputes, we need police officers in the schools to ensure an environment that is conducive to learning,” Mr. Christie said yesterday before heading into his weekly Cabinet meeting.

When Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald announced last Friday that the school based policing initiative was being reinstated, Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson welcomed the news.

Some parents were also relieved to hear the news as the decision put their minds at ease about their children’s safety on school campuses.

However, FNM Deputy Chairman Darron Cash condemned the move as regressive and told the Bahama Journal that the party maintains its anti-position on the issue.

“My general position on this matter has not changed and I believe what the FNM Government initially determined was correct and that was that the role for policemen was not inside the school,” Mr. Cash told the Bahama Journal in a telephone interview yesterday.

“And as I have said before, it is an admission of failure of public policy on multiple levels that the government’s only reaction to the issue of discipline in the school or order in the school is to put policemen in.”

In 2008, the Ingraham administration discontinued the initiative and said at the time that officers belonged on the streets and not in the classroom.

It was a move the teachers union despised and fought unsuccessfully to have reversed.

When asked whether the government would take steps to enhance the Ministry of Education’s security division in order to alleviate the need for officers in schools, the prime minister was unclear.

He said he has come to understand that not everyone will agree with everything his government does.

Mr. Cash, meantime, said, “From what I understand has been outlined in the programme, it still misses the boat on what is needed in terms of long-term government policy, specifically how are we going to re-establish law and order as laid down by administrators in the school system.”

The school-based policing programme, which is a component of Urban Renewal 2.0, was launched on Friday at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre.
Minister Fitzgerald said the programme is part of the government’s efforts to “break the back of crime and violence” and to create a safer Bahamas.

Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade could not, however, state just how many police officers would be involved in the programme.

“We have selected distinct officers who will be assigned to each school on a daily basis. Some schools will have three, some will have more than three and some will have two however every single police officer is going to be attuned to what’s happening come the opening of school,” Commissioner Greenslade said.

Minister Fitzgerald also explained that that school-based policing initiative is expected to compliment the disciplinary programmes and strategies that already exist in the schools.

A training workshop will be held for the officers today at the RBPF headquarters for two days.

School administrators, guidance counsellors, attendance officers, security officers and school psychologists will also take part in the workshop.

The officers will be placed in schools across the nation as of September 3.

Written by Kendeno Knowles

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