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TBPS moves forward with Diversity Initiative

Incident Date: 
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 12:15
Location: 
Thunder Bay
Date Published: 2017-10-18

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – The city’s police service board has given the green light for the department to move forward with a new, and possibly permanent, diversity initiative.

The board reviewed a presentation highlighting the goals of the Diversity Initiative for Thunder Bay Police Service Monday, and a resolution to support it passed unanimously. The proposal outlined a major undertaking not meant to be treated as a short-term project.

“When you look at the totality of the project, my first comment to the board is that we want this to be achievable and we want it to be sustainable, “said Thunder Bay Police Service A/Chief Sylvie Hauth.

“I don’t want to do something that will last three months, be OK for the day and then go away.”  

The presentation explained the initiative’s purpose as re-righting relations inside and outside the police service, particularly with the Indigenous community. It also responds to calls of systemic discrimination within the service through four elements:

  • Restructuring the Aboriginal Liaison Unit.
  • Invigorating recruitment to attract Indigenous and other under-represented groups to the police service.
  • Creating ongoing training opportunities for service staff by offering diversity and culturally significant courses to enhance employees’ knowledge and abilities to interact with all community members over the course of their careers
  • Enhancing the service’s internal and external communications to convey organization changes and foster accountability through evaluations.

The service will now form a working group, which will include members of the service and greater community, to help set a vision for the initiative.

Meanwhile, the immediate next step for the initiative includes presentations to the service’s membership and association, followed by an internal survey.

A/Chief Hauth said the survey will help “capture the current composition of the force” to create a starting point in terms of “what we look like as a force.”

The initiative builds upon the previous Diversity in Policing project, carried out by the police service and community organizations from 2004 through 2008. That previous diversity project addressed systemic discrimination with the police service.  

“The original (Diversity in Policing project) did a lot of big level things,” said Leisa Desmoulins, a Lakehead University professor and diversity initiative consultant. “The vision for this new initiative … is more doable. It is doable within the community and within the police service.

“In that way we are really expecting that it will have more ability to maintain that momentum.”

With an initiative featuring more achievable and long-lasting goals, Desmoulins is optimistic the newer approach will lead to real and positive institutional changes.

 

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