HQ Welcomes LGBTQ Community

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 1:21 p.m. June 26, 2014
Updated: 1:23 p.m. June 26, 2014

It didn’t take long for a senior Orlando, Florida police officer to appreciate the Toronto Police Service’s commitment to diversity and an inclusive workplace environment.

A large group of people standing between cocktail tables
The police headquarters auditorium was packed with Service members and community members

Lieutenant Jim Young and his partner – Chaz Butler – are in the city for the three-day LBGT law enforcement and criminal justice conference, hosted by the TPS at the Sheraton Hotel and World Pride celebrations.

“Listening to Chief Bill Blair speak at the conference opening, it was obvious that he’s very devoted to leading an organization that embraces all people,” said Young. “Leadership is about leading everyone in the right direction and he’s doing that. The Chief is an outstanding man and very well-spoken.”

A former United States Air Force officer who served in Central America and the Middle East, Young worked with the City of Pinellas Park Police where he was “Officer of the Year” in 1996 before pursuing a full-time education in law and joining the Orlando Police 18 years ago.

This is his first visit to Toronto.

“Me and my partner love travelling and we have been overwhelmed by what we have seen here so far,” he added. “I will build relationships with Toronto Police while I am here and we intend to enjoy everything Toronto has to offer.”

Toronto has been very appealing to Butler also.

“I am here to support my partner and we are having fun in this wonderful place,” said Butler, a management consultant. 

Young and Butler attended the annual Pride reception at police headquarters on June 25.

Observed during the end of June each year, Pride Week is a celebration of the diversity of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) community in the Greater Toronto Area. This year, Toronto has been named site of World Pride, a first for a North American city.

Two men in police uniform beside another man
Chief Bill Blair, Orlando Police Lieutenant Jim Young and his partner Chaz Butler

The Service has formally celebrated the event since 2000, and members participate in several activities, including the weekend parade that attracts hundreds of thousands of revellers from around the world.

“For me, Pride Week is an extremely significant and powerful week,” said Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee. “It’s a celebration of love and harmony, partnership and unit. It’s also a celebration of the acceptance of all people of diversity and of our commitment to the fundamental principles of democracy, equality, inclusivity and non-discrimination. For our Board, this is an important time of the year and we support the celebrations because they are a representation of our commitment to policies which enshrine the importance of equality, equity and fair treatment for all those members of the Service and the community.

Photo Journal of Pride Reception

“It is, for us, critical that we work towards the achievement of these principles in partnership between the police and the community, making our efforts collaborative and therefore much more powerful. As a partner in this project of true equality, it’s important also that we look inward as an organization and take the measures that are necessary to foster a workplace that’s genuinely welcoming and respectful of diversity in all its forms. Pride Week is an opportunity for us to renew our commitment to these goals.” 

Blair welcomed the guests to headquarters and the city.

“This is a place where people are treated with respect, people can live in dignity, in safety and in harmony together,” he pointed out. “I am proud to live in a city which is one of the most inclusive and diverse anywhere on the planet. We have so much to celebrate and this weekend we will celebrate.”

Two teenage girls holding a poster flanked by two men, one in TPS uniform
Rexdale Pride members Sharna Fiross Alam and Ifran Sawed present their Rise Up Pride theme poster to Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee (at left) and Chief Bill Blair

Rex Pride, an organization in the Rexdale-Jamestown community that provides youth who identity as LGBTQ an opportunity to learn artistic skills and create messages for social change, presented a print to Toronto Police that will be displayed permanently at headquarters.

“Every other community is celebrated with a poster or picture,” said the Service’s LBGT liaison officer Constable Danielle Bottineau. “The only time Pride comes in is during Pride Week. This is something permanent and it really speaks to the foundation which is based around the relationship between the community members and our police service and how to have that foundation, you need to rise up together to be diverse and inclusive of everyone.”

On behalf of the Service’s LBGT-Internal Support Network, Bottineau also presented a cheque to Rick Gosling of The Children’s Breakfast Club.

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