Recognizing Pride Month
While Pride Month is a time to be joyous and celebrate, June represents a period for Toronto Police to acknowledge and reflect, said Chief James Ramer at the 22nd annual Chief’s Pride Reception at police headquarters on June 16.
“There is still a lot of work to be done on our journey to strengthen relationships and repair trust with diverse communities in our city and that certainly includes the LGBTQ2S+ community,” he said. “As recently as yesterday in my remarks following the release of our race-based data, I said that we have not done enough to ensure that every person in this city receives fair and unbiased policing. I meant every word. Effective policing is based on trust and that trust depends on every person in this city being treated equally and with dignity and respect.”
The Chief recounted that Pride in Toronto evolved from mass protests following police mistreatment.
“It is an uncomfortable truth, but one that we must reflect on if we want to end unfair treatment and meet the expectations of Torontonians, “he said. “As a Service, we are taking concrete actions towards reform with the Board and in partnership with our communities.”
The implementation of the 151 recommendations stemming from Judge Epstein’s ‘Missing & Missed’ review and the Service’s Gender Diversity Trans Inclusion project are among the actions being taken by Toronto Police to mend fences. (Visit the Missing and Missed Implementation Team webpage to learn more)
“Both of these important initiatives have brought the Service and impacted committed together to have meaningful and candid discussions and we are thankful for their trust in engaging with us,” Ramer said.
He thanked Service members who work hard daily to represent Toronto Police, particularly the LGBTQ2S+ Internal Support Network members.
“I believe our members have never been more committed to making inclusive change, no matter your rank or position, uniform or civilian,” the Chief added. “You are uniquely positioned to help us implement the changes we need so that, as a Service, we can help build a city where all Torontonians feel safe and have an opportunity to thrive.”
Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) Chair Jim Hart said Pride Month is a significant, joyful and powerful event.
“It is a celebration of love and harmony, of partnership and unity, he said. “And it is a celebration of the acceptance of all people of diversity and of our commitment to the fundamental principles of democracy, equality, inclusivity and non-discrimination.”
Over the years, the Board has supported Pride Month through financial contributions to the Chief’s Pride Reception and its commitment to policies that enshrine the importance of equality, equity and fair treatment for all.
“It is critical that we work towards the achievement of these principles in partnership with the community, making our efforts collaborative and therefore much more powerful,” noted Hart. “We know that the relationship between the police and the LGBTQ2S community is not a perfect one and that our history includes some dark periods.
“We know too that there are concerns about equitable and respectful treatment and the question of potential bias. We will not let these challenges stop us. We must continuously work to understand each other and to build and foster strong and meaningful bridges. This is not easy work, but we will not be deterred.”
To coincide with the Chief’s Reception, the Service unveiled the LGBTQ2S+ and Indigenous/Two Spirit sections of the YourChoice.to website that is a resource for assault survivors.
“Whether a victim of sexual violence chooses to confide in a friend, go to the hospital, seek legal advice or report to the police, the website was designed to empower survivors of sexual violence to make informed choices with respect to the process that is right for them,” said Inspector Justin VanderHeyden who heads that the Sex Crimes Unit.
“Through consultations and drawing on lessons learned, I am proud to say that we have been able to expand the YourChoice.to website to be more inclusive and representative of these communities while providing survivors of sexual violence with the resources that are unique to their needs. This process of continuous improvement is not over. The past has taught us some important lessons and what is appropriate and inclusive today can always be improved tomorrow.”
Superintendent Lisa Crooker was the Master of Ceremony.