Cops in Mississauga and Brampton must confront systemic racism, says Peel's police chief

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Peel Regional Police (PRP) Chief Nishan Duraiappah believes he has 3,200 of the best officers patrolling Mississauga and Brampton, but he admits they can do better when it comes to handling systemic racism in the organization.

Which is why Peel’s unprecedented partnership with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) to develop and implement the changes needed to eliminate systemic racism in law enforcement is much needed.

“There’s this great acknowledgment that systems have the opportunity to always get better,” Duraiappah said during Friday morning’s Peel Police Services Board meeting where they received and passed a motion on the overview of the Human Rights Project undertaken by the PRP and PPSB with support from the OHRC.

“As police leaders and organizations, we need to go beyond verbal affirmations and understanding the willingness to step out and implement changes without fear of failure is required and expected.”

Duraiappah believes he was brought here to do exactly that by the PPSB and he re-affirmed the PRP’s commitment to the project.

“As we evolve from a traditional law enforcement model to a pro public health emphasis that’s rooted in a human rights focus and adapting and implementing the following principals under a systemic change framework, I want to acknowledge the systems level changes that are required across my sector in policing as well as other human services is much needed,” he said.

The time for organizational change is now, says Ontario Human Rights Commission Chief Commissioner Ena Chadha. Addressing systematic racism requires hard work and it appears they have found a willing partner.

“Peel Police have signaled that they are willing to do that meaningful work to face that reality of systemic discrimination through our memorandum of understanding,” Chadha said. “Up until now, few, if any, police services in Canada have done this.

“Peel Police have expressed a willingness to tackle structural barriers, implement accountability in monitoring mechanisms, examine the role of policing, addressing community calls for de-escalation and defunding, and most importantly they’ve agreed to adapt legally binding remedies to end systemic racism in policing.”

The agreement will see them collectively, along with the community, create a road map on how to go forward with concrete actions to remedy long-standing racial disparity.

She said Peel Police have already taken critical steps from engaging respected experts in race based data collection, anti-racism and de-escalation training, to working with the newly-formed anti-racism Human Rights committee.

“Most importantly, these binding commitments will not be finalized unless we reflect the experiences and the issues of communities affected by policing in Peel, particularly black, racialized and indigenous people,” Chadha said. “This past year has shone light on black, indigenous and racialized communities have born the injustice and the tragedy of systemic racism.