The OPA represented over 2,100 officers and condemned outright the “disappointing” actions of the school board.
OPA President Matthew Cox said his officers should attend and speak with grade one students about community helpers. However, board officials set conditions for participating police to follow, including no uniform and not coming in uniform.
“Could someone please explain why? If we are trying to build relationships in the communities and educate students who may wish to pursue a future career in Emergency Services, how is this decision the appropriate course of action?” wrote Cox in a letter to the OCDSB.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford expressed grave concern over the “disturbing trend” of marginalizing police officers owing to their profession. “Police officers are the people we call when we need help,” he said. “They deserve so much better than this.”
Cox concurred with Ford, defending the “brave men and women” who wear the uniform. He said they “deserve better” and “should receive the same respect as any other profession.”
Ford called on the OCDSB to “immediately reverse” their exclusionary policy and show “heroes on the frontlines the respect they deserve.”
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce, MPP for King Vaughan, also criticized the “entirely unacceptable” school board policy to limit parents of students to partake in parent-to-work-day.
“As a parent who has attended and spoken to a kindergarten class in the past, I can assure you that every child in that room loved seeing the police uniform and having an opportunity to sit in the police car and turn the lights and siren on and off,” said Lecce.
The OPA president called on the OCDSB to “educate and not divide our community,” adding, “I [hope] you will reverse your decision and realize the police are an important and valued member of the community.”
“The future is bright. Please don’t darken it,” said Cox.