Celebrating Pride Month
The Progress Pride Flag is once again flying over police headquarters as Service members and community partners marked the beginning of Pride Month.
Acting Deputy Chief Kim Yeandle said the flag was raised in support and celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning and Two-Spirit (LBGTQ2S+) Toronto Police Service members and the communities that police serve.
“I want to underline that the Service is listening and we are committed to making progress on recommendations of the Missing & Missed Report with direct input from the community,” Yeandle said, of the independent review into missing person investigations, particularly in relation to LGBTQ2S+ and vulnerable or marginalized communities.. “We have heard your concerns that are unique to the community and as part of the Service’s 2022 budget, Chief James Ramer has also committed to expanding the Hate Crimes Unit to increase investigative capacity in this critical area.”
The ceremony included community partners who joined senior officers and (LBGTQ2S+) Service members and allies, including Church-Yonge Corridor Neighbourhood Community Officers.
“Our work and our learning along with our commitment to building strong relationships continue, and we thank the community for their part in helping us in this journey,” Yeandle said.
Ryan Teschner, the Toronto Police Services Board Executive Director and Chief of Staff said Pride Month is an enduring tradition in the city.
“It comes out of movements and people who have organized to make sure that all communities, including LBGTQ2S+ are treated with respect and are appreciated and celebrated for their diversity,” he said. “The Board and the Service recently, through Judge Epstein’s Missing & Missed Persons report, has worked together with the community to address some of the issues that have been identified, working to implement the recommendations. We are doing that in partnership and that to me is what today is about which is celebrating diversity and the strength of our city.”
Constable Rob Chevalier, the Service’s LBGTQ2S+ liaison officer, joined Connie Langille, of the Toronto Police LGBTQ2S+ Community Consultative Committee in raising the flag on the seventh floor.
She has been a Church-Wellesley Neighbourhood resident since 1985.
“A lot has changed in the last 37 years when it comes to the relationship between members of the Toronto Police and the LBGTQ2S+ community,” said Langille. “It has really been a positive step to have more community officers who get know the residents. We still have a lot of ways to go, but Toronto Police is moving in the right direction.”
Having the Pride Progress flag flown at headquarters is significant to Chevalier who joined the Service in 2007 and has been with the Community Policing & Engagement Unit since May 2021.
“It demonstrates that there are those levels of intersectionality, not only within the LBGTQ2S+) community, but across all marginalized communities,” he said, of the flag that includes black and brown stripes to represent communities of colour, along with the pink, light blue and white stripes, which are used in the Transgender Pride Flag.
The flag was raised for the first time at police headquarters five years ago.