Po­lice chief on racism

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

We are in the midst of im­mensely chal­leng­ing times. Ge­orge Floyd’s death has sparked an out­pour­ing of pain and protests that are rais­ing im­por­tant ques­tions about polic­ing both in the United States and here at home.

Had you asked me a few weeks ago whether sys­temic racism was a prob­lem in Cal­gary and in the Cal­gary Po­lice Ser­vice, I may have said no. But af­ter weeks of hear­ing many sto­ries, some very painful, about the preva­lence of racism in our city and the ex­pe­ri­ences of peo­ple of colour, it’s clear there is much more work to be done.

Let me be clear, the Cal­gary Po­lice Ser­vice does not tol­er­ate racism. We do not tol­er­ate po­lice bru­tal­ity or the in­ten­tional use of ex­ces­sive force that is il­le­gal, against our poli­cies, or con­trary to our val­ues. I know that with few ex­cep­tions, all our of­fi­cers and em­ploy­ees share this con­vic­tion and we work hard at deal­ing with those who do not.

How­ever, we are still hu­mans do­ing what can be an im­pos­si­ble job at times. Like all hu­mans, we some­times bring un­con­scious bi­ases in to work de­spite our train­ing and best ef­forts, and we make mis­takes that fall short of ex­pec­ta­tions.

Cana­dian polic­ing is built on the foun­da­tional prin­ci­ples of Sir Robert Peel. Our abil­ity to per­form our du­ties de­pends upon public ap­proval of our ac­tions. In Cal­gary, polic­ing is some­thing we do with our com­mu­nity, not to it.

Our of­fi­cers and civilians un­der­stand the im­por­tance of build­ing trust in our re­la­tion­ships with all Cal­gar­i­ans. Ev­ery in­ter­ac­tion is an op­por­tu­nity to ei­ther build trust, or to tear it down. We are com­mit­ted to en­hanc­ing the trust we’ve built and mak­ing sure that we are work­ing with the com­mu­nity to con­tin­u­ously im­prove. It is im­per­a­tive that we con­front sit­u­a­tions where we have not met the ex­pec­ta­tions of the public so that we can learn and grow stronger.

I am ex­tremely proud of the mem­bers of the Cal­gary Po­lice Ser­vice. They work hard to serve our com­mu­nity with re­spect and com­pas­sion. As a com­mu­nity, we put them in some of the most chal­leng­ing and dy­namic sit­u­a­tions imag­in­able and they al­most al­ways han­dle these sit­u­a­tions with the high­est level of pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

I am also proud of the many com­mu­nity sup­port pro­grams we are in­volved in with our part­ners. For many years we have rec­og­nized that en­force­ment is not the so­lu­tion to deal­ing with many of the so­ci­etal is­sues that im­pact public safety or feel­ings of safety in our city. We have many pro­grams and part­ner­ships that deal with ad­dic­tions, men­tal health is­sues, youth crime in­ter­ven­tion, as well as strength­en­ing com­mu­nity re­la­tions — es­pe­cially with our di­verse com­mu­ni­ties.

We know that there is al­ways room to grow and these dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions we are hav­ing pro­vide us with an op­por­tu­nity to col­lec­tively be­come even bet­ter. I as­sure you that we are lis­ten­ing at­ten­tively to the con­ver­sa­tions about racism, use of force and po­lice re­form. We wel­come these dis­cus­sions with a view to evolv­ing the strong polic­ing model we have built with our com­mu­ni­ties here in Cal­gary.

Mark Neufeld is the chief con­sta­ble of the Cal­gary Po­lice Ser­vice.

We are still hu­mans do­ing what can be an im­pos­si­ble job at times. We some­times bring un­con­scious bi­ases in to work de­spite our train­ing and best ef­forts.

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