CORNWALL, Ontario – At the Police Services Board meeting held on Thursday, July 23, Cornwall Police Service (CPS) Deputy Chief Shawna Spowart presented her service’s plan to implement progressive change.
The plan is to promote diversity, equity and inclusivity both within the CPS and with their actions with the public.
Spowart made it clear during the meeting, that this plan had been in the works for some time, and was not done in response to the death of George Floyd and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests.
“Our journey actually began last December. That was when I was invited by the Children’s Aid Society to participate in a training session,” Spowart said.
Spowart explained that she, and CPS Inspectors Chad Maxwell and Dave Michaud took part in a Courageous Leadership seminar where they were introduced to equity, diversity, and inclusivity in ways that challenged their views on those topics.
She explained that the objectives of the new program will be to increase awareness of diversity issues within the CPS, ensure equitable treatment of everyone, and promote better relations between the police and diverse communities.
“This is an issue of compassion, understanding and patience of ALL people,” said Deputy Chief Spowart. “This is an issue of humanity, which is why it is of such importance to the CPS and our community.”
CPS has assigned A. S/ Sgt. Tracey Pilon to lead the project and develop a plan to promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity. Her first task will be to collect statistical data about the make-up of the Cornwall community and of the CPS itself. She will also be charged with developing a framework for the plan to be presented to the Police Services Board in September.
“We realized early on, we need to survey our own people. What is the make-up of our own service,” Spowart said.
Spowart acknowledged that this would be a different journey for each member of the service.
“We acknowledge that our members will be coming into this journey at different places on this continuum. We welcome everyone into this journey, no matter where you are on the continuum,” she said. “When you know better, you do better. We want our people to know better.”
In response to the presentation, Mayor Bernadette Clement applauded the CPS for the work they have already done and explained her impressions of the goals of this new program.
“This is not about targeting them (CPS members) in any way or saying we are not satisfied. This is about being professional and progressive,” Clement said.
Another CPS member, Bill Beattie took issue with the fact that the Black Lives Matter protest in June took place on the same day as D-Day, and stated that he believed that all lives matter over just black lives.
“I don’t think that anyone is arguing that All Lives Matter, but All Lives don’t matter until Black Lives Matter,” Deputy Chief Spowart responded.