By Zuhair Kashmeri
CEMA Webmaster & Editor
Gone are the days when the Metro Toronto police force had fewer than 3 per cent of visible minorities, leaving crime in the ethnic communities unsolved and serving newcomers to Canada far less than the majority communities. (Click photo to enlarge, then back to return to article.)
Today, says police chief Bill Blair, “Our number for visible minority police officers is close to 17 per cent… and we have officers representing just about every [minority] community and language group… Believe me it has helped us solve a lot of crimes because they understand the language, the culture, the little nuances that are important for police work.”
The chief was speaking to CEMA at a gathering last Tuesday (Feb. 6, 2007) where he and several of his officers met members of the ethnic community in the Officer’s Lounge at police headquarters. More than 30 ethnic journalists, photographers and videographers attended the informal gathering where they chatted with officers over sandwiches and soft drinks.
CEMA was at the event in full force — its members made up a large portion of those attending.
The chief told CEMA that in fact in the last graduating class of new recruits the police had more than met their targets for both visible minorities and women — 50 per cent of the graduating class comprised visible minorities and women.
“Visible minorities are also represented on every specialized unit in the force,” he said. “It’s not just getting them in, it is using them in every specialized unit.”