Change in how some minority groups are treated by law enforcement has to come from the top down, said the chair of Greater Sudbury Police Services Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC).
And, Navreet Kudari said, she is impressed that Police Chief Paul Pedersen listens. If he didn’t, she wouldn’t give her time to the committee.
“I wouldn’t sit on any committee because I think it looks good (for me). It has to be something I really believe in,” Kudari told Sudbry.com. “When we talk to Chief Pedersen, he is genuinely listening to what we are saying. He hears what we are saying.”
The mother of two said she wants her children to grow up in a community that is safe and one that allows them all the opportunities they are entitled to as Canadians.
“I want to see change. I want to see my children are treated as equally as their peers. That is why I am on this committee.”
The police service has been accepting applications from citizens and community organizations interested in participating on the DAC. The deadline to apply is this Sunday, Aug, 23. You can find the application here.
Kudari said they are always looking for people with passion for diversity issues. Applicants are interviewed and selected by a panel of DAC members.
“I would like to see anyone who feels they are marginalized in any way or not treated fairly, whether it’s locally here, or by the media or (they) have a certain image of law enforcement ... to come to be on the committee.”
Currently, there are three vacancies for the committee. The group meets monthly from September to June. Kudari, who works for the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, has served on the volunteer committee for three years. She became chair this year.
The DAC doesn’t meet in the summer, but has had a few recent virtual meetings to talk about racial tensions and the Black Lives Matters movement.
“This summer with the protests going on and everyone unsure of what to do … I think the chief and the GSPS have responded the best that they could. They are always looking for feedback, looking for different perspectives,” said Kudari.
Since 1990, DAC has advised on matters relating to race relations and multicultural issues. In addition to reviewing reports and initiatives and responding to issues, DAC plans an annual luncheon to celebrate International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination every March. The event was cancelled this spring due to COVID-19.
Another initiative supported by the DAC is the police ride-along program that introduces new citizens to members of the Sudbury force. In some countries, the police are not the good guys.
“They ride along with a police officer, ask questions, and hopefully get interested in law enforcement, and see how Canadian law enforcement works,” said Kudari.
Much of the DAC’s recent focus has been on reviewing the Ontario Human Rights Commission report on law enforcement, and discussing how those recommendations can be implemented in Sudbury. Pedersen invited representatives from the commission to speak to members of the police board and the DAC.
“Our goal is not to just meet the bar but to exceed it,” said Kudari.
Over the next few months, DAC will be looking at ways citizens can make comments or complaints directly to the committee in confidence.
“It is on the agenda for the coming year. We recognize that is something to (help) make us do better.”
Vicki Gilhula, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com