Grayden here. I don’t know if you’ve been following our Black Lives Matter coverage, or our dialogues about racism, but to follow up on that, we reached out to Chris Herridge, our STPS Police Chief, and Tanya Calvert, the STPS Corporate Communications Coordinator, to talk about racism within our own community towards Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour.
We wanted to touch base about the national calls to action to address systemic racism and get their thoughts on whether they feel it exists and how we can address it. For example, do they see value in bringing more organizations on board to help with issues that relate to racism and mental health, eg. the Mobile Outreach Support Team (M.O.S.T.).
We also talked about the recent demands to Defund the Police, to get their thoughts on that. They acknowledged the concerns that those requests were coming from and then we talked about the value of adding more funding for mental health workers (shout out to Jeff Yurek for the province’s help with funding the M.O.S.T. program) and crisis management for racialized communities and vulnerable groups. One of the groups they currently work with is the St. Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership/YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin.
Another point that was mentioned was our police services work at inclusion and diversity in relation to LGBTQ+ groups.
The diversity, equity, and inclusion team, has a two fold mandate. They also want to maintain contact with all members of the community, so if there are any groups that are celebrating any events or festivities, let the STPS folks know – because they would love to be included and help raise awareness both externally and internally about those groups. They want to keep educating and learning together on all the cultures that St. Thomas represents.
The Chief also pointed out that “we are a vibrant growing community, we have people moving here from the GTA, from outside of our community, and we need to grow with our community and we need to grow with our population, and I know that the members of this police service are committed, they are dedicated to providing the best policing that we can.”
The STPS service has also announced, just today, that they are running a pilot program for body worn cameras to help build public trust within the community.
If you have experienced a hate crime, please contact the STPS, they have officers trained to help.
It was a great to sit down and have a chat and hopefully this is the start of a dialogue that will continue to move forward. Thanks to the St Thomas Police Service for their participation.