Nelson, B.C., police chief, Wayne Holland, says transgender policies good policing

The Nelson Police Department has had a policy in place since 2012 that outlines how to deal with transgender people in a respectful way.

Police in Nelson, B.C. adopted a policy on interacting with transgender people 3 years ago

Chief Constable Wayne Holland with the Nelson Police Department says he will do whatever he has to get a dedicated mental health car for the City of Nelson. (Nelson Police Department)

The Vancouver Police Board has been ordered to adopt policies within the next year that recognize and prevent discrimination of identification of transgender people after a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case found it discriminated against transgender woman Angela Dawson.

"It seems to me that the VPB has virtually no policies or training of officers on how to appropriately deal with trans people without discrimination," wrote tribunal member Catherine McCreary in the decision.

The Vancouver Police Department said it will review the decision.

"Our officers are hired and trained based on some fundamental core values," said Const. Brian Montague.

"One of those core values is respect, and we expect our officers to be respectful of each and every one of the hundreds of people they encounter on a daily basis."

In Nelson, B.C. the city police force adopted a policy for dealing with transgender people in 2012.

Police chief Wayne Holland shared advice to his colleagues in other cities on how to police respectfully and effectively.

1. Partner with community organizations

The Nelson Police Department works with AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society (ANKORS), a community organization that works to break down barriers for people facing discrimination, including transgender people.

Police officers take a "Transgender 101" course to learn how to interact with a transgender person.

"They offered to train our officers, and we thought, 'Why not,'" Holland told Daybreak South.

2. Ask specific questions

Holland said policy dictates that when a person identifies as transgender, or when an officer suspects a person my not identify with their birth gender, that officers ask specific questions — like what name they use, what their gender identity is and what name to put on documents.

Holland said officers will also ask if there are any considerations when contacting family members, or if the person has any medical needs — like access to hormone therapy.

"That means less exposure for them, less likelihood for an unpleasant incident. It makes our life easier as well," he said.

3. Understand respect is key to the job

Holland said a respectful policy that treats everyone equally is key to his mandate to protect and serve his community.

"We serve all manner of persons from the community — every race, creed, religion. We are expected to serve those who break the law as well as those who are victims of crime," he said.

"We just see it as being an easy way of doing our jobs and to avoid any unfortunate circumstances befalling those in our custody by just dealing with them as human beings and treating them as they wish to be treated."

To hear the full interview with Wayne Holland, click the audio labelled: Nelson Police Department's policy for transgender people.

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