By TOM GODFREY
Toronto Police officials say they’re working hard to try and make the force a top employer of choice for members of Toronto’s diverse communities.
The force, in its 2015 Annual Race and Ethnocultural Equity Report, said they are making organizational and cultural changes that are “imbedded in day-to-day operations and education”.
There is a “goal of ensuring that the service continues to be an employer of choice for Toronto’s diverse communities”, according to the report that was presented to the Toronto Police Services Board at a meeting last week.
Police and board members admit that the force has a hard time attracting Black people and other visible minorities due to the backlash stemming from past carding and racial profiling practices that has led to the personal information of more than one million young men stored in police databases.
There was also the two-week protest by Black Lives Matter outside police headquarters and demands that the service remove its float from the Toronto Pride Parade.
The force’s equity policy and annual reporting was first passed by the Board in 2006 and is a way to gauge policy effectiveness and its impact on the public.
The report said its goals are being achieved through diversity and inclusion initiatives and ongoing community partnerships, as well as improved individual and organizational competencies that enable the force to provide a workplace and service delivery without discrimination or harassment.
The Diversity Institute of Ryerson University has conducted a study and made recommendations for a more diversified police workforce in which a number of successful programs were established or looked at.
Human Rights Investigative Training (H.R.I.T.) was developed to provide members who conduct investigations the knowledge and tools to also conduct Human Rights Code investigations. More than 200 officers have attended the training since 2011 with another 66 completing the training last year, the report said.
There are also Internal Support Networks (I.S.N.S.), which were established in 2007 to provide peer support through guidance, assistance, mentoring and networking to members on various aspects of policing.
“Over the last seven years, the number of I.S.N.S. has grown and the types of programs, events and engagements have increased substantially,” according to the report. “Current I.S.N.S. includes the Black-I.S.N., South Asian-I.S.N., East Asian-I.S.N. and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual I.S.N.”
The report cited the Divisional Policing Support Unit (D.P.S.U.), which includes Neighbourhood Resource Officers and Youth Response Support. This unit was formed in 2011 through the amalgamation of the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (T.A.V.I.S.) and the Community Mobilization Unit.
“Members work in the communities with Community Response Unit officers from each division,” the Board was told. “And with the T.A.V.I.S. Rapid Response Team (R.R.T.), providing expertise on community and youth engagement.”
“Divisional Policing provides a more effective, efficient and economical way of doing business both internally and externally, in relation to crime prevention, while being more operational and supportive of field units,” the report explained.
It also gives credit to the Ambassador Program, which was launched in 2007. There are now 239 Ambassadors, which include current, retired, civilian and uniform members, who proactively promote the force as an employer of choice.
The Ambassadors assist police recruiters at job fairs, community events and mentoring sessions in an effort to attract individuals of diverse backgrounds to ensure the force is reflective of the community, the report states.
“The program is working on identifying different ways to incorporate youth education and getting youth to think about their futures, reaching out to divisional officers, specifically those assigned in the schools,” the report said.
The Employment Unit is also working to educate youth about their use of social media as they think about how this could affect their employment in the future.
The report said the force continues to take part in more town hall meetings, cultural and community celebrations which includes Black History Month, Caribbean Carnival, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, International Women’s Day, National Aboriginal Day Ceremony and Planet Africa Expo among a long list of groups.