Racial Pride and Consciousness Trilogy: Addressing Hate Crime and Racial Discord through Community Policing

By Kuck, Heinz | Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services, December 2004 | Go to article overview
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Racial Pride and Consciousness Trilogy: Addressing Hate Crime and Racial Discord through Community Policing


Kuck, Heinz, Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services


The fundamentals of community policing are not altogether new. The Police Services Act of 1990 legislated community-oriented policing as a responsibility of the Chief of Police. Over the past two decades, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) has tested various models and subsequently implemented a variety of community-based initiatives to address community needs. It is important to emphasize that according to the TPS, community policing is a way of providing police services that acknowledges the need for, and the benefits of, a police-community partnership to establish priorities, maintain order and enhance public safety. In 1991 the TPS published a long-term strategic plan for providing police service in the years beyond 2000. This plan, entitled Beyond 2000, committed the service to continue the change process initiated in the mideighties, guided by the principles of community-based policing.

As a result of the Beyond 2000 plan, a "Restructuring Task Force" was organized to engage in research, conduct consultations and perform a general analysis regarding community policing initiatives. From this task force came a number of recommendations for changes to priorities, organizational structure, service delivery and support systems. As a result of this published strategic plan, and its subsequent organizational changes, each member of the service was exposed to the process as a new way of doing business which allowed all officers (irrespective of position) to use problem-solving models to facilitate the exchange of information between public and private agencies and community groups.

The result of the work by the task force indicated that community policing relies on the creation and maintenance of effective partnerships with the community. It relies on community members being aware of crime and quality of life concerns, and on becoming involved, either formally or informally, in their solutions. During the TPS's strategic organizational change, the service stressed the importance of community involvement and developed an expanded role for volunteers and community partnerships. Local divisions were responsible for establishing and nurturing these relationships through such bodies as Community Police Liaison Committees (CPLC.s), Youth Volunteers, Adult Volunteers and the longstanding Auxiliary Program. Each of the 16 police divisions were mandated to established C.P.L.Cs, (generally made up of community residents, rate payer groups, BIA members, schools, students and other service providers), and also engage volunteers, auxiliaries and a host of other participating ad-hoc committees and work groups. These groups, depending on the division's inherent issues, were to meet monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

DYNAMICS AND DEMOGRAPHICS OF A COMMUNITY IN NEED

Originally designed for 12,500 residents, the Thorncliffe Park area of Toronto is recognized as one of the most unique urban landscapes in Canada. Currently it is made up of over 33,000 residents, speaking 77 different languages and dialects, and practicing the religions of Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Islam, all within a 5 square kilometer residential grid. Thorncliffe is also recognized as containing Canada's largest Muslim concentration, as well as housing North America's most heavily populated public school, which records a junior kindergarten to grade 5 student population of over 1,600.

This diverse community however, is not without its share of urban crime and incidents of racial and religious discord. Various racial groups, especially youth, engage in inappropriate behavior from shouting racial epithets and writing hate graffiti to committing assault. In addition, there are incidences of inter-cultural discord, wherein peoples from the same country, but originating from different tribal regions or villages, are involved in ethnocentric-tradition based conflicts.

THE TRILOGY INITIATIVE

In response to the above, over the past three years the TPS has designed and developed a "Trilogy" of events to not only capture the "hearts and minds" of the Thorncliffe Park residents (by instilling a sense of cross-racial pride and a community consciousness of goodwill), but to have residents work cooperatively, irrespective of race, creed or color, in an effort to reduce harmful ethnocentrism, religious discord, hate crime, and criminal victimization.

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