Toronto Police received praise from European colleagues for promoting inclusion and diversity.
The European LGBT Police Association presented a souvenir medal to Chief Mark Saunders and Toronto Police Services Board Chair Andy Pringle at the annual Pride reception at police headquarters on June 19.
French police officer Alain Parmentier and Marja Lust of the Dutch Police Service made the presentation. They are the president and vice-president respectively of the European LGBT Police Association.
“Toronto Police is a leader in its firm stance against homophobia and transphobia and we felt they must be honoured for this,” said Parmentier.
The foreign officers are in Toronto for the second World LGBTQ Conference for Criminal Justice Professionals co-hosted by Toronto Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Lust and her partner, Ellie Lust, were instrumental in organizing the inaugural conference in 2016 in Amsterdam.
Chief Saunders welcomed community members and delegates attending the world conference.
“If you had told me in 1982 when I joined the Service that I would be Chief of Police standing here at headquarters with representatives from 14 different countries from the LGBTQ2+ community, I absolutely would not have believed that,” said Saunders. “This is so cool. I didn’t think I would see the day where I would ever have the opportunity to see and experience this and I am so proud of where we are today and more importantly where we plan on going. I think that is the critical piece.”
In his address, Chair Andy Pringle said the Toronto Police Services Board is committed to taking measures that are necessary to foster a workplace that’s genuinely welcoming and respectful of diversity in all its forms.
“We know that the relationship between the police and the LGBTQ2+ community is not a perfect one and that our history includes some dark periods,” he said. “We know too that there are concerns about equitable and respectful treatment and the question of potential bias. We will not let these challenges stop us. We must continuously work to understand each other and to build and foster strong and meaningful bridges.”
Pringle acknowledged that the road ahead is not easy.
“We will not be deterred,” he added. “We will continue to pledge our efforts, working hard in ways big and small to achieve that ever-important public trust. It is my hope and, indeed my sincere belief, that we will move forward in a spirit of powerful partnership, constructive analysis and continued dialogue to address these critical issues.”
Pringle thanked Const. Danielle Bottineau and the Community Partnerships & Engagement unit for organizing the event and their ongoing work with the city’s LGBTQ2+ community and its allies.