Blair urges officers to reach across cultural divisions in parting words as police chief

Despite all the controversies (G20, carding etc), good parting words on inclusion:

In his parting words as police chief, Bill Blair asked officers to reach across cultural divisions – including, perhaps, those that separate them from civilians.

“More than half the citizens of our city have chosen to come here,” Chief Blair, two days before ending his 10-year term, told hundreds of top-ranking Toronto Police Service officers at his retirement gala dinner on Thursday.

“The reason they’ve chosen to come here is because this is a place of inclusion,” he said. “It’s more than merely tolerance… it is an example to the world.”

Chief Blair was appointed in April 2005, the youngest-ever Toronto police chief at the time. After a career partly spent walking a beat in Regent Park, his term was marked by breaks with tradition. On the day of his appointment, he acknowledged publicly that racial profiling existed within the force. He went on to heavily recruit women and members of ethnic minorities.

Ten years later, Chief Blair is ending his policing career amid criticism related to racial profiling, as well as much praise over his wider work as chief. One of his last acts as chief was to negotiate future terms for a policy that has long angered Toronto’s black communities–“carding,” in which officers stop and question people who aren’t suspected of a crime.

He has said repeatedly that the practice, which many critics would like to see abolished, is a useful public safety tool.

But in Thursday’s speech, he also asked officers in general terms to understand others’ perspectives.

“Let us all be careful,” he said. “Let us be careful that we do not succumb to…those forces, that would divide us, those forces which would separate us, those forces that would make us afraid of each other.

“Let us always be careful to return to each other, to support each other, and to be that place of social cohesion and inclusion that we should all aspire to be,” he said. “Because that’s what makes the city of Toronto, the country of Canada, an extraordinary place.”

More should follow this example.

Blair urges officers to reach across cultural divisions in parting words as police chief – The Globe and Mail.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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