Police officer's blackface photos prompt investigation in London, Ont.

'This is frustrating, concerning and disappointing': London mayor

December 29, 2017

A social media account revealed an undated photo of Const. Katrina Aarts painted in brown and dressed in traditional attire.

A photo of a London Police officer having her body painted in blackface has prompted an internal police investigation and harsh criticism from the city's mayor. 

Several photographs of Const. Katrina Aarts having the makeup applied were posted on an Instagram account, police said Friday.


The photos were sent to the mayor's office earlier in the week by a concerned citizen. The pictures were then forwarded to the deputy chief on Thursday, prompting him to call an investigation. 

"We take these matters very seriously," deputy chief Stephen Williams said. "We understand that many members of the community have expressed some concern and offence to this and it's our responsibility to address that."

Williams said the service's professional standards branch is investigating the photos, which were sent to CBC News.

"We're hoping for a swift investigation to gather the facts about the intent and the context surrounding these images."

Williams said the investigation will include speaking to the officer in question, including any witnesses to the incident.


Aarts has acted as a relief media officer for the police but Williams could not say how long she's been with the force. 

London Mayor Matt Brown, who also sits on the Police Services Board, was quick to respond to the photos. 

"This is frustrating, concerning and disappointing. There is no place for racism in London," Brown said in a written statement.

CBC News has tried to contact the officer, as well as the Instagram account holder where the photos were posted. So far, neither have been available for comment. 

Mo Salih, a black city councillor who was recently appointed to the Police Services Board, described the incident as a "disappointment."

"This is very hurtful and problematic. This stuff is not okay, racism or any other forms of insensitivity," he said. "That picture is problematic and many people would say that's not okay or unacceptable today or any day."


Hala Ghonaim

Hala Ghonaim is a London, Ont.-based radio and digital reporter. You can reach her at

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