Friday, January 12, 2007

Making policing work for our values

Gareth Kirkby from Capital Xtra has been circulating this message. We need more queer folks in Ottawa to get involved with community policing issues!

Making policing work for our values


We all know that policing in Ottawa has come a long way from two decades ago when members of the force were harassing gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans people. And it’s made major leaps from the days when violence against us was ignored by the force, and there was no dialogue between our communities and the force. The Hate Crimes Unit takes anti-queer crime very seriously. There is an ongoing two-way dialogue through the liaison committee to the queer community. Individual officers are almost always respectful now in their interactions with our community.

But of course, there’s always room for progress and you have a perfect opportunity to speak up for even better community policing at an open-mic meeting with the police and liaison committee.

It’s being held this coming Mon, Jan 15 at city hall, in the Colonel By Room, 2nd floor (110 Laurier Ave) from 5:30pm-8:30pm. Here are just a few of the issues I’ve heard people speak out about. Perhaps they’re the kind of issues you want to raise. Perhaps you have other issues.

The list below is intended to provoke you to think about what you believe Ottawa’s police service should or should not be doing, and how our community should relate to the force.

Could the liaison committee be made more representative of the diverse cultures within our community?

Today, there is strong trans representation on the liaison committee (a major advance over the past few years), but little representation of gay men, of sexual minorities (leather, SM, kink, park sex aficionados, etc) no representation from the bathhouse or bar operators for example. Perhaps you could volunteer to join?

Why did the liaison committee create a sub-committee to address public-sex issues? How can we shut it down? Our community has a long and proud tradition of transgressive expressions of sexuality; shouldn’t we be able to expect our liaison committee to speak up in support of sexual minorities within our community?

Cameras are being put throughout the park system. How do we guarantee that they won’t be used to harass people enjoying consensual sex?

How do we educate the city’s bylaw enforcement officers to not harass members of our community when they hold hands while walking in the park? And how do we stop them from more strictly enforcing the law against groups putting up queer-themed and punk-themed posters on poles?

How can the gay community help stop police harassment of sex trade workers? Now that police are more respectful of our community, should we not be demanding the same for other sexual minority communities, especially prostitutes?

How can we help lend support to a four-pillar approach to drug addiction, along the lines of the successful experiment in Vancouver? How can our community, our liaison, work to support and expand harm-reduction approaches like crack pipe programs, needle exchanges, safe-injection sites and so on?

How can the police force be made a comfortable enough place that gay men come out? So far, few if any gay officers have come out. Police culture can be a hostile place for a gay cop, though lesbians are coming out.

There are so many other possible topics for a good townhall meeting. Please come out and voice your opinion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think alot of what is being done is for PR purposes only.Police forces may give lip service to diversity but they will go out of their way not to hire a gay man.