By TOM GODFREY
Toronto Police say they’re making inroads in reaching out, recruiting and dealing with members of our diversified communities, according to a report on race relations.
The 2014 annual Race and Ethnocultural Equity Policy report that reviews the force’s community engagements was released to members of the Toronto Police Services Board at its meeting last month.
The report paints a rosy picture of successful Toronto Police community outreach programs despite huge challenges the force faced last year from members of the community over the racial profiling and carding of Black and brown-skinned youth.
The controversial street checks program has been placed on hold as new laws are introduced this spring at Queen’s Park to ban the carding and racial profiling of youth by Ontario police.
The report points out that the Toronto Police Service (TPS) is committed to “promoting and strengthening race and ethno-cultural relations between the force and the communities it serves”.
The goals are being achieved through diversity initiatives, community partnerships and providing a workplace and service delivery without discrimination or harassment regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, nationality, religion or language.
The report said a Human Rights Investigative Training (HRIT) was developed for officers who conduct investigations. The 200 officers who have been trained so far are provided knowledge of the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC).
An Employment System Reviews (ESR) was also launched to examine all policies, procedures, practices and processes to determine barriers that existed in the workplace under the OHRC.
The reviews identified barriers for those who may be Aboriginal, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), persons with disabilities, racial minorities and women.
The Service is working to implement the 132 recommendations that were made to eliminate gaps and barriers in the workplace, the report said.
The force also uses Internal Support Networks (ISN) to provide peer support through guidance, assistance, mentoring and networking on various aspects of policing. There are networks for Black officers, South Asians, East Asians, Filipinos, women and members of the LGBT community.
The report credited the ongoing proactive work of Community Police Liaison Committees and Community Consultative Committees from local divisions for making inroads into various neighbourhoods.
“The mandate of these committees is to work with the Service in identifying, prioritizing and solving local policing issues by being proactive in community relations,” the document states.
It credits a Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) that promotes youth exposure and participation in police work.
“The youth are selected from priority neighbourhoods and are reflective of our city’s cultural diversity,” the report said. “The Service in 2014 engaged 279 YIPI students who participated in a variety of policing assignments and community building events.”
Some 63 students received First Aid training in after-school programs that also taught email and letter writing etiquette.
Also noted was the work of a Diversity and Inclusion Unit that supports human rights, diversity and inclusion in the Service. The unit plans, trains, develops, reports and monitors the force’s diversity and human rights initiatives.
“Organizational and cultural change is imbedded in the day-to-day operations and education with the goal of ensuring that the Service continues to be an employer of choice for Toronto’s diverse communities,” the report said.
It cites the success of the Ambassador Program that includes current, retired, civilian and uniform officers with community members to promote the force as an “Employer of Choice”.
There are about 267 Ambassadors who promote policing in places of worship, sporting events or community gatherings.
“Ambassadors assist police recruiters at job fairs, community events and mentoring sessions in an effort to attract individuals of diverse backgrounds to ensure the Service is reflective of the community,” according to the report.
The TPS is also expanding its participation in cultural and community celebrations, including the Caribbean Carnival, Black History Month, Asian Heritage Month, Khalsa Day Parade, Pride Day Parade and many others.
A Special Events Unit was involved in more than 500 community and culturally-related events in addition to town hall meetings to promote two-way dialogue between police and various communities.