- TORONTO (CP) -- Ontario's solicitor general would like to see an armed
and uniformed police officer in every high school in the province.
- Bob Runciman, who was responding to questions
on the need for more security in schools following recent shootings in
Alberta and Colorado, said having police in schools could help save lives.
"Getting more police involved in the school system can help to ensure
that problems don't occur, perhaps significant problems," he said.
- "And if something does happen then
you have someone there who can deal with it and is trained to deal with
it and in some instances save lives."
- An aide to Runciman said Friday the minister
was talking about low-key community policing, not the type of high-security
police presence being called for by some U.S. officials. "He'd be
there to provide education about the consequences of crime, to bridge the
gap between police and youth," said Jon Hamilton.
- Yet reports on Runciman's call for armed
police in Ontario's 827 high schools provoked an angry response from Ontario
Premier Mike Harris.
- Asked whether he agreed that schools
should be permanently policed, Harris denied that Runciman had suggested
such a measure. "My solicitor general didn't say that. I know there
was an American who indicated that in fact that makes some sense,"
Harris said Friday during a taping of Global-TV's Focus Ontario. The program
- "No, our goal is quite the opposite.
It's to teach respect and responsibility and accountability. (To) teach
young people there are consequences even when it's minor offences at the
beginning. By being a little tougher at the beginning we could perhaps
avoid larger problems in the future."
- Off camera, the premier challenged Robert
Fisher, the host of the show, and angrily stormed off.
- Bob Reid, an aide to Harris, said later
the premier had understood Fisher to allege Ontario was about to introduce
a confrontational style of policing to schools.
- While the premier is opposed to that
kind of intervention, Reid says Harris favours an expansion of a program
being tested in 16 Ontario municipalities that puts "school liaison
officers" in district schools.
- Although armed and in uniform, these
officers do not guard school entrances or patrol hallways with guns at
the ready, Reid suggested.
- Community policing is a municipal responsibility,
but Runciman said he would encourage local jurisdictions to expand the
pilot program. "This is certainly an area that I would encourage
our municipal partners to be looking at," he said, adding that it
would be a good use for the 1,000 police officers recently hired in the
- Runciman ruled out the prospect of surveillance
cameras to track students in Ontario schools, however. "It may come
to that -- metal detectors and surveillance cameras -- but I hope not,"
- "I don't think Canadian society
has gotten to that point where we have to do that sort of thing. It's just
the whole Big Brother aspect of it that I'm troubled by."