Shelburne resident Althea Alli has been appointed as the new vice chair of the Shelburne Police Service Board – becoming the first women of colour in the community to hold the position.
Speaking with the Free Press about her reaction to the new role, Alli admitted she was still absorbing it but that she was “completely honoured to be in the position.”
“I’m humbled and honoured to be in the position, and of course have a voice for the more marginalized and the racialized community,” said Alli. “It is a great honour that I’m able to stand and speak on behalf of them, I do hope to learn more and to understand from my community their concerns.”
Alli was appointed to the Police Service Board last Tuesday (Jan. 19), after previously serving as a provincial appointee on the board. She has been on the local Police Service Board since 2019.
Working as the Shelter Director of Choice’s Youth Shelter in Orangeville, Alli said with her new role she is hoping to demonstrate a “strong female leadership” to female youth and youth in the community
“I’m in a position where I can be a leader for other young females to know that if it’s something you want to do, go ahead and do it…To work hard for the things that you want and to become leaders to the next generation.”
Municipal Police Service Board’s oversee how policing is provided in their local community and work with residents and organizations to ensure the community is receiving appropriate policing needs. The Town Shelburne, has been working on tackling diversity and inclusion at a municipal level since June of 2020, developing an Anti-Black Racism, Anti-Racism and Discrimination Taskforce, which Alli is also vice chair of.
“It really is a great position to be in,” said Alli.
Shelburne Police Service (SPS) Const. Jennifer Roach, was part of the meeting where Alli was appointed vice chair, and was the one to point out her achievement as the first women and women of colour to hold the position.
“I was very proud of her for that moment, it’s an important role and it was a big deal for Althea to join the police service board as it was, and then to be lifed into the rank of vice chair,” said Roach.
“With the current climate with policing she lends a view that some else may not. Althea brings diversity between gender and being a person of colour that no one else can really speak to and in the current climate of policing it’s important that her voice is going to be heard with the OPP.”
Const. Roach herself is currently the only female officer on the Shelburne Police force and was the first female President of the Shelburne Police Association. Roach has held the position as president, which represents the uniform members and civilians of the SPS, for almost four years; serving two terms unopposed.
Roach also spoke about the need for representation of women in leadership roles for young women in the community.
“For the community, to see not just a female Association President but hand-in-hand with being a female officer is very important for our young girls to see that the opportunities are endless for them,” said Roach. “It’s important for young girls, but also for the young boys in our community to also see that gender doesn’t matter.”
Roach will work as the president of the Shelburne Police Association until Feb. 18, when they transition to OPP. Shelburne Police Service Board meetings are held every third Tuesday of the month.
Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press