NEWS: JersVision works to make Police Services Better has been working with the Ontario Association of Cheifs of Police for a number of years. Check out this article about our ongoing work. 

Gay Advocates Praise Cop Handbook
by Danielle Bell
from the Ottawa Sun 

A gay advocacy group welcomes a “best practices handbook” aimed at helping police officers break down barriers and address concerns within the gay community and among colleagues.

The gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-gendered and queer community still harbours concerns about hate crimes, discrimination and harassment, say officials, and the guide aims to help officers better understand such issues. It will also use input from gay people on police interactions, as well as raise awareness of any struggles from gay officers on the job.

“We know there are issues. We can always do better. We always look for ways to improve,” said Joe Couto, with the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.

“We need to provide police with a toolkit.”

OACP, comprised of law enforcement representatives from across the province, including RCMP and OPP, is working on the inaugural resource document for police agencies. A similar resource document exists on racial profiling.

Jeremy Dias, director of Jers, an Ottawa organization that works to eliminate bullying, homophobia and transphobia, is excited about the handbook. Dias said it is a long time coming. The group is providing input to organizers as the document develops.

“Some police officers come to the table with misconceptions about the (gay and trans-gender) community,” said Dias.

“I think this type of a document would really give police services and especially officers (on the ground) a really great background tool, which I think is the missing piece in this.”

There have been some tensions among people in the community, said Dias, and a mixed history with police has some people nervous to engage officers. One of the biggest challenges comes from bias around the LGBTQ community, said Dias, who wants officers to be more aware of such issues.

Other concerns include the fear of not being taken seriously, said Dias, such as in cases of domestic abuse or sex assaults.

All police forces in Ontario are asked for input, such as internal or external policies on any related issues.

The document will be extensive, say officials, with a hired position to pull together research.

OACP aims to roll out the resource guide by the end of this year.

Twitter: @ottawasundbell