Police diversity plan calls for special equity office

The Ottawa Police Service has released a multi-year action plan aimed at boosting diversity and stamping out discrimination within its ranks.

Ottawa Police Service looking to remove recruitment barriers, boost training

Ottawa Police Service headquarters on Elgin Street.
The Ottawa Police Service plans to update its outreach and recruitment efforts to remove 'unintended barriers' facing some job applicants. (Radio-Canada)

The Ottawa Police Service has released a multi-year action plan aimed at boosting diversity and stamping out discrimination within its ranks.

The plan follows a 2018 census that revealed a deep internal divide over the force's attempts recruit and promote women and minorities.

Data released in November also revealed that black and Middle Eastern drivers are still being pulled over at disproportionately high rates. 

Later that month, Chief Peter Sloly announced a plan to address those trends would be coming in early 2020.

The plan, titled "Equity, Diversity and Inclusion," lists 10 priorities for 2020, including:

  • Creating a diversification and equity office within the force.
  • Reintroducing the hate crimes unit, which was announced last week.
  • Updating outreach and recruitment criteria to remove unintended barriers for certain applicants.
  • Creating new training plans to address human rights, racism and Indigenous awareness.

The plan comes as the force prepared to welcome 100 new recruits.

A good start

Michael Bach, CEO of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, applauded the plan as an important first step.

"I think they have done certainly all of the the right steps to move forward with this. This is deliberate action," Bach told CBC's All In A Day.

"I always just use the analogy of a car driving up a hill. If you take your foot off the pedal you know you're going to go backwards, so you have to keep your foot on the pedal to make sure things keep moving forward."

Chief Peter Sloly promised the diversity plan in November following the release of a report showing black and Middle Eastern drivers were being pulled over in disproportionately high numbers. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Bach said the outreach and recruitment elements of the plan are crucial in "removing as many barriers as possible," particularly between police and the city's racialized communities.

"Some newcomer communities may have a very different relationship with policing, and so you have to go and do some deliberate outreach in order to make sure that people are considering policing as a career," he said.

Ketcia Peters, former co-chair of the Ottawa Police Community Equity Council, a precursor of the current Community Equity Council, also applauded the plan.

"They've thought of providing the necessary training, such as mentoring. They've thought of good outlines for finishing the plan," she said in French.

Capital Pride told Radio-Canada it's waiting to see what concrete measures will be taken to better serve the city's LGBT community.

The plan is currently open for public comment. It will be tabled for approval by the police services board later this month.

With files from CBC Radio's All In A Day, and Radio-Canada's Jérôme Bergeron and Nicolas Haddad