Chief Larkin Makes Statement to Police Service's Board

Bryan Larkin

On June 17, 2020, Chief Bryan Larkin issued a statement to the Police Service’s Board acknowledging that, like many institutions in our society, our Police Service has work to do to improve outcomes, to strengthen relationships, and to build greater trust with communities across Waterloo Region. 

The full statement is below:

Chair Redman and members of the Board,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide an update on the activities of the WRPS and, in particular, on the initiatives the Service has taken to address racism and discrimination in policing, as well as steps taken to promote and support upstream services as an alternative to enforcement.

First, on behalf of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, I want to acknowledge that racism exists in our Region and in our country and that Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities have suffered, and continue to suffer, from systemic discrimination and bias in our society.

We recognize and acknowledge that policing is perceived and experienced by racialized communities as an institution that embodies this systemic discrimination and bias. We also recognize that these communities believe, based on their felt experiences and histories, that Police Services in our Region, in Canada, and throughout the world, exercise their powers of enforcement in a manner that results in the disproportionate treatment of those who are poor, Black, Indigenous or People of Color.

We respect and support good faith efforts to promote greater accountability and transparency in policing and to achieve better outcomes by police within our criminal justice system.

We are proud of our members that share this respect and on a daily basis have committed to these good faith efforts, as they work tirelessly to ensure our entire community is - and feels - safe However, like many institutions in our society, our Police Service has work to do to improve outcomes, to strengthen relationships, and to build greater trust with communities across Waterloo Region.  This is, and must be, a two-way street.

We are prepared to listen and to learn.  Without honest reflection, we cannot improve.

We are prepared for the challenging and hard conversations based upon both evidence, lived experience, and perception.  Without them, bridges of understanding and trust cannot be built. 

We are prepared to do the work to find better solutions in collaboration with all community partners.  Without doing so, there is simply no path forward.

Promoting Equity, Inclusion & Diversity in Policing

Over the last six years, our Service has been on a journey. It has not been an easy journey, but we have made progress, including the launch of the first ever Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (EID) Plan, which provides a road map for building a more representative Police Service that looks like - and can better relate to - the community in which it works.

Along with the EID Plan, the Service is also undertaking an internal review of its Human Resources Strategy. EID training is also being offered on Implicit Bias and Indigenous Awareness and new training is being developed for Anti-Black racism & systems of systemic discrimination, oppression and marginalization

Promoting Upstream Service Call Management as an alternative to Enforcement

Our Service fundamentally believes that a strong focus on the social determinants of health, education and economics, as well as upstream prevention and integrated systems of collaboration, is the path forward to ensure that those in need are properly served and receive the services they rightly deserve.

Over the years, policing has inherited a myriad of responsibilities, largely based on our service delivery model of 24/7/365 – although, as you have heard me say in the past, we know that alternative service delivery would better serve those in need.

WRPS is actively engaged in a number of initiatives with a strong focus on upstream prevention, versus the Judicial System as the answer, including:

Wellbeing Waterloo Region

We are committed to Wellbeing Waterloo Region, which is an initiative focused on improved societal wellness and upstream prevention by seeking to improve the social determinants of health and wellbeing. 

An officer is assigned to the project full-time.

Impact Project in Partnership with CMHA

In partnership with CMHA, our Service has full-time mental health nurses who provide medical expert support to front-line officers, as well as attend and manage crisis intervention calls for service.

Impact operates seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and is funded by Ontario Health. We will continue to explore expanding this initiative and support additional funding for these programs so they are available 24/7/365.

Situation Tables

WRPS supports two Situation Tables operated by external health and social partners and is supported by three dedicated resources (CRO Officers). All partners have the ability to refer citizens requiring acute care intervention, with the goal of providing holistic solutions that remove them from the Judicial System alternative.

Mental Health and Drug Treatment Court

WRPS was instrumental in the development of the Mental Health and Drug Treatment Court through referral of matters that have traditionally been managed by the Judicial System.  These courts provide specialized support for those battling mental health and/or addictions versus incarceration.

Other Initiatives:

  • ·         Development of a Race Based Data Collection Board Policy and WRPS Procedure
  • ·         Body Worn Video (Cameras)
  • ·         Inspector Training and Education and Professional Development
  •           Community Services (Community Resource Officers and SRO Program reviews)

In closing, as a person of white privilege, and as your Chief of Police – I have been reflecting on the many voices and the concerns raised by our Black, Indigenous and People of Colour communities.

I do believe we have an opportunity to engage our community, work with all levels of government, and collectively work towards fundamental change as we modernize and transform policing for the 21st century.

Chair Redman – you have the commitment of myself, Deputy Crowell, Deputy Hilton and our Leadership Team, to action change and set the path forward.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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