Responding to what is occurring in Canada and beyond,Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) Chief Paul Martin yesterday outlined a four-point plan to tackle racism in the police force.
“In reflecting on our community it struck me that in my life I have not witnessed a time when we faced so many incredible cross-pressures, all hitting us at the same time. Our country has faced a pandemic whose full impact we will not know for some time, but the loss for many has already been great. In addition, this has been a difficult time for many people in our community, particularly those who have been impacted by systemic racism and discrimination,” said Chief Martin in an issued statement.
“One of the positive outcomes of our current context, however, is that it has caused all of us – but particularly those of us in policing, to take a hard look at what we do and how we do it. It is not enough for Durham Regional Police Service to send messages of understanding, without being willing to do that introspection ourselves,” he said.
“Along with my Executive Leadership Team we have developed the following actions to address concerns raised by our community. Over the next several months we will be rolling them out,”he added.
1. Race-based data: The province mandates the collection of race-based data for ‘Use of Force’ interactions. Some services have chosen to expand this collection to other interactions. In July, we will set our strategy and begin this process here. It will be even more important to shine a light on the approximately 500,000 interactions that we have with the public each year.
2. Community members: Will be invited to participate in recruitment and promotion interviews and in policy review. This summer we will train interested members of the community to participate in some of our interview processes and to review our internal policies and directives. It is important to open our doors and let the residents of this Region, whom we serve, see how we make decisions about who leads, who gets hired, and how we manage internal processes.
3. Duty to intervene training: We recognize the importance of calling out bad behavior when we see it, no matter the degree or who it involves. Annually, we will ensure by-stander/duty to intervene training, and other equity and inclusion-related programs so that we are continually refreshed on these skills.
4. Demographic census: In September, we will launch an internal demographic census of the composition of our organization, in order to identify areas of concern and disparities in our work toward inclusion, including in leadership, promotions, and career opportunities. We will ensure that we are practicing what we preach in becoming an equitable and inclusive organization.
“Durham Regional Police Service is committed to seeing the rollout of these initiatives, and available to answer any questions that you might have. We will move forward in a spirit of transparency and clarity, and be in touch as we progress,” DRPS Chief Paul Martin added.
Regional Chair to host anti-Black racism town hall
Meanwhile, John Henry, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer for the Regional Municipality of Durham, said: “Across the communities that make up the Region of Durham, we have been clear in our need to fight racism and discrimination. We work hard to build a region that is welcoming, but we know that embracing diversity and inclusion is not enough.
“We need to educate ourselves on the realities of anti-Black racism and acknowledge how we have failed, in the past, to ensure equity for Black residents.”
He said staff are developing a corporate Anti-Black Racism Strategy and updating the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy—with engagement of employees directly impacted by racism.
Chair Henry announced his intent to convene a virtual community town hall discussion, this summer, to better understand the scope of the situation here in Durham.
“I want to know how regional policies and programs can help address systemic anti-Black racism in our community. And I will invite members of Regional Council, senior employees, and leadership from the Durham Regional Police Service to join me for this important discussion,” Henry said.
For those who are unable to participate in the virtual session, they will be invited to provide input via an online format.
“We want to hear your voice. This is just the beginning of a much-needed dialogue. Because racism, discrimination and marginalization have no place our region,” he said.
Information, about this event, will be shared via the region’s communications channels in the coming weeks.