New Brunswick

Police officers once again to be stationed at Fredericton high schools

Police officers will once again be based in Fredericton's two high schools, reviving a program started in 1995, but put on pause in 2019 due to staffing constraints.

Program to begin at Fredericton High, Leo Hayes in September

A police car is parked outside the entrance to Leo Hayes High School.
Leo Hayes High School is one of two high schools that will have a police officer stationed at it during the school year. (CBC)

A police officer will once again be stationed in both of Fredericton's anglophone high schools, reviving a program that was put on pause in 2019 because of staffing constraints.

The school resource officer program will resume in September, after the Anglophone School District West and the Fredericton Police Force came to an agreement that sees the district pay for three-quarters of the cost to hire two new police officers for Fredericton High School and Leo Hayes High School.

"The main objective of the school resource officer program is to make schools safer, to improve relationships between students and police, provide education and awareness about the law, and to help address and solve problems," said Chief Martin Gaudet, in an interview.

"We see a lot of value in the program, and now it's a matter of hiring the officers and deploying accordingly."

Police chief speaks into the microphone
Martin Gaudet, Fredericton's chief of police, said the new cost-sharing agreement with the school district made it possible to hire two new police officers for the program. (Sam Farley/CBC News)

He said the two officers will be dedicated to serving their respective schools during the school year and will be redeployed to other duties when classes break for the summer.

Fredericton High School has the largest student population among all high schools in the province, with about 2,250 students. Leo Hayes High School, meanwhile, has about 1,700 students.

Fredericton's school resource officer program began in 1995 under former police chief Gordon Carlisle, said Gaudet.

WATCH | 'To have that officer right here on site will certainly make a difference':

Police return to Fredericton high schools as school resource officers

2 months ago
Duration 1:35
Anglophone West superintendent David McTimoney says the move will help build relationships, while police presence ‘in a timely nature will be helpful.’

In 2019, Chief Roger Brown announced he was suspending it in order to put more officers on city streets to combat rising crime.

Gaudet said the difference between now and the program pre-2020 is the cost-sharing arrangement.

He said before it was suspended, the school district gave the police force $10,000 annually to have officers dedicated to the two high schools.

This time around, the district is paying much of the cost of each officer, giving the police force the capacity to hire two additional officers, rather than forcing it to redirect two existing officers away from their regular duties.

"I couldn't hire additional officers without the financial support of [Anglophone School District West]," Gaudet said.

Addressing problems proactively

District superintendent David McTimoney said there was no specific incident that prompted him to approach the police force about reviving the program.

The exterior of Fredericton High School on a cloudy day.
Fredericton High School is another high school that will have a city police officer stationed at it during the academic year. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

He said even while the program was suspended, police officers responded adequately to any incidents that arose at the two schools.

With officers set to be stationed at the schools next fall, he said he anticipates their response to incidents will be even quicker, and he hopes their presence helps prevent incidents from happening in the first place.

"For an officer to be in classrooms and talk about the dangers of drugs, of violence and the repercussions that could occur ... I think is an important step and an important piece of the puzzle that we are working on now."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aidan Cox

Journalist

Aidan Cox is a journalist for the CBC based in Fredericton. He can be reached at aidan.cox@cbc.ca and followed on Twitter @Aidan4jrn.