CORNWALL, Ontario – At a Police Board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 3, the Cornwall Police Service (CPS) outlined the steps they have taken and the steps they will take to be more equitable, diverse and inclusive both within the service and without.
“We are talking about fair treatment, access and opportunity for all people,” said Deputy Chief Shawna Spowart. “Our goal with inclusion is to create an environment where all people feel supported and valued.”
Spowart explained that roughly 300 hours had been spent on the initiative so far, mostly in preparation for the next step, community outreach.
Acting S/Sgt. Tracey Pilon serves as the project manager for the Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) initiative and explained that she was well on her way to forming an internal committee to help support the project and that on the first day of asking for volunteers to sit on the committee, CPS received six replies and are currently reviewing 17 applications.
Once assembled, the committee will formulate a survey to distribute to the public to analyze how the public views the service and to get a better handle on the diversity of the community it serves.
The results of the survey once compiled will lead to further engagement in the form of townhalls, listening tables, and other forms of outreach.
“We do need to diversify our work place, we need to diversify our training and we need to reach out to mariginalized youth,” said Spowart.
The report was well received by members of the Board.
“I love this. It really thrills me to see this. It really does,” said Glen Grant, Chair of the Cornwall Police Services Board.
CPS Chief Danny Aikman went on to explain the purpose of this initiative for the members of his service.
“I think we have made it perfectly clear to our staff we value them as police officers and civilians,” he said. “This is in no way an attempt to point a finger at them and label them as something they’re not. We want to send the message to community that we have our eyes open, we have our ears open, and we are open to change. We see the need for our police service to change and we will continue to enforce that message without finger pointing. No one is accusing individual members of our service as being racist.”
“We do acknowledge that race is a part of our society and we have to be cognizant of that in our relationship with our community,” Aikman went on to say. “We have to acknowledge that for the most part our police service we are looking at the world through the lens of white privilege.”
Aikman explained that Cornwall was a diverse community and that diverse perspectives were an advantage.
He disclosed to the Board that their most recent hire was a woman of Syrian descent who would be going to the Ontario Police College in the coming weeks, and that three of their past five hires have been women.