Lately there has been a lot of news about discrimination, racism and now systemic racism. Unfortunately for mankind, in some form, we have all experienced it.
The new buzz word is systemic racism. Systemic racism gives an unjust amount of power and resources to white people while people of colour are denied the same. Talking of power, many of us face this in our everyday lives with supervisors, bullies and people in uniform – except in the armed forces where rank has its privileges and trainees are taught to take orders. However, the armed forces practice this in their own community and rarely get involved with the general public.
With the police force, it’s sometimes different – some police officers feel the uniform and a gun give them superiority to use excessive force either physically or in the tone of their speech. This is wrong. They must always remember they are dealing with civilians and not a uniformed force. They are in their jobs to serve and protect.
Policing is a difficult job. In the armed forces, you know your enemy. In policing, you usually don’t and police officers need to make split-second decisions to protect citizens and themselves. They almost need to be mind-readers.
Police officers need to be engrained with de-escalation techniques. In my opinion, regional and national police forces need to have more training and ongoing refresher courses. Training needs to be personalized to address communities where colour, religion, language and physical appearance play a part.
Perhaps, for the first time, we are hearing voices to “defund” the police to promote fundamental reform in policing. Calls are mainly coming from visible minorities and police treatment of vulnerable people. Reform is necessary to promote ongoing adaptation to changing communities.
Most cities cater 23 to 26 per cent of city budgets to policing. About 85 per cent of this budget goes towards salaries and benefits. Police board members, without concern of reappointment, need to challenge leadership to use the balance funds creatively to address these calls.
Delta police has the unique “no call too small” approach and covers a large geographic area distinctly divided with farmland between the north and south. We need a creative approach to maintain our quick response time while diverting funds to ongoing deceleration techniques and education.
As far as systemic racism, I served on the Delta police board and must admit I not did notice any signs of this either at the board level or at the senior management. In fact, Delta police has senior officers who are female and senior officers who are from visible minorities, all promoted from within and all promoted on merit. I have faith in our police force and its leadership.
With everything in the media about policing, naturally the men and women of Delta police are also under the microscope. This is the time for police members to be professional and courteous such that the community of Delta will continue to love “their” Delta police.