DPD offers exceptional service to all, but that’s not the norm in Canada

Editor:

Re: Under the microscope, police need our support, not anger, Community Comment, June 25

I read Ingrid Abbott’s column with a mix of emotions.

Like her, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with members of the Delta police. But then like her, I am also lily-white. As such, I’ve had mostly good experiences with police in every locality I’ve lived in, from my hometown of Ottawa, to Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg and finally Toronto where we lived and worked before moving to B.C. 15 years ago.

But that’s kind of the point. My experience of these police forces is very different from those of racialized people and - on the Prairies and in B.C. especially – Indigenous persons. That is the definition of systemic racism.

One could write a book – or a couple of voluminous Royal commission reports – on the failures of policing in this country. Or in the case of the RCMP “failure” might be the wrong word. This organization for over 150 years has been singularly “successful” in doing exactly what it was created for: oppressing and dispossessing the original inhabitants of this territory.

And from so-called “moonlight tours” to the edge of cities in  minus 40 degree temperatures to the routine dismissal of violence against Indigenous women and girls, municipal forces extend this deeply-ingrained – indeed foundational -- systemic racism into the cities of this country.

Now, as police forces go, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the DPD on several occasions. In particular with its interactions with un-housed friends and acquaintances who may also have substance abuse or mental health challenges. It’s been very different from what is common in other jurisdictions.

But we need to realize that this is exceptional. Perhaps being a smaller department, perhaps due to the particular history of our community and the force itself, I don’t know. Nevertheless, extrapolating our own personal and very localized experiences to policing in Canada in general would be the epitome of white privilege.

A deep, honest and soul-searching examination of the reality of policing in this country leading to fundamental changes in the whole concept of community safety is badly needed and long overdue.

Robert Ages

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