Const. Ben Todd, the Edmonton Police officer at the centre of a police brutality case which alleges that he kicked an Indigenous teenager in the head so hard he now has a tennis-ball sized hole in his skull, was a school resource officer (SRO) at Austin O’Brien High School in 2019-2020 and was frequently in Edmonton-area high schools as part of the Edmonton Police Youth Recruit Academy.
An image of Todd was even on the Edmonton Catholic School District School Resource Officer web page until it was taken down after our inquiries.
Constable Todd (top right) was featured on ECSD's web page for the SRO program (until we asked about it)
The case has drawn national attention due to the incredible brutality of the incident and the lack of consequences for the officer in question. According to a police spokesperson Todd is not suspended and remains in an operational position “but is not currently in front line patrol.”
Kim Beaudin, vice-chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, put out a statement after details of the case were made public. Beaudin has called for action from Chief McFee, Justice Minister Madu and the Edmonton Police Commission. He was stunned that Const. Todd is still working as a police officer.
“By keeping him on the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is condoning that type of behaviour,” said Beaudin.
“He should not be working there. Period. He should not be interacting with the public, at all.”
According to the Edmonton Catholic School District and the Edmonton Police Service, Const. Todd is not currently a school resource officer.
“There would be no reason for Const. Todd to access any of our schools currently because he is not an SRO and not a current member of the Edmonton Police Youth Recruit Academy,” said an Edmonton Catholic School District spokesperson.
“The fact that Const. Todd was an SRO makes it exponentially worse,” said Ahmed Ali, a community advocate and former board member of the Law Enforcement Review Board.
“Cops shouldn’t be in schools with teens and vulnerable people. It’s about making sure we are protecting the most vulnerable and if those who are supposed to protect them are actually causing the most harm then we are only creating a more unjust society.”
The Edmonton Public School Board suspended their SRO program last September after they initiated a review, however the Edmonton Catholic School District has continued to deploy armed police in their schools—even in their elementary schools.
Two separate media reports place Const. Todd in Edmonton-area high schools over the past four years as part of the Edmonton Police Youth Recruit Academy. The promotional videos of these camps show students running through obstacle courses, doing fitness tests, being shown weapons and police gear and lots of high energy music.
“Something that’s particular with this program is that certain students who are less in shape than others come in and defeat students who are athletes. We notice that the experience really brings out a determination from certain [students] to become police officers,” said Const. Todd in 2017 in a French language quote to Radio-Canada.
A 2019 Edmonton Journal article, headlined, “Chasing the Bad Guys,” also features a photo of Const. Todd with a young female student, helping her practice her punching form.
The Edmonton Police Youth Recruit Academy is run by SROs and runs during spring and summer breaks. The most recent session took place in July this year at St. Joseph High School. Student recruitment is done by SROs, and with no SROs in Edmonton Public Schools only Catholic school system students can currently take part in the program.