The Progress Pride flag was raised over police headquarters to mark the start of Pride month as Chief James Ramer re-committed to the relationship with the LGBTQ2S+ communities in the wake of the Missing Persons Review.
“Policing is about relationships, public trust and confidence,” said Chief Ramer, after raising the flag alongside his Command Team and members representing the LGBTQ2S+ communities and allies. “This flag is demonstrating our commitment to work with the various communities in the city of Toronto and demonstrating our commitment to working together.”
Chief Ramer noted that the Missing & Missed Report submitted by theIndependent Review of Missing Persons Investigations comes at a difficult time in the relationship between police and the LGBTQ2S+ communities, however it presents an opportunity to get things right moving forward.
“The report really opened our eyes to recognize we’ve made some mistakes and that we have to change things for the better,” said Ramer, noting the Service is now moving forward to implement all 151 recommendations of the report led by Staff Superintendent Pauline Gray in consultation with community partners.
- Read the joint statementby Toronto Police Services Board Chair Jim Hart and Chief James Ramer on the Missing Persons Review report.
“I think the aspect of us working with the community, in concert with the community, in partnership with the community, they’re on the ground floor working with us so I think the prospect for the future is very bright,” Chief Ramer said.
The Chief was joined at the flag raising by Deputies Peter Yuen and Myron Demkiw, Chief Information Officer Colin Stairs, LGBTQ2S+ Community Consultative Committee Co-Chair Lisa Crooker and CCC member Superintendent Chris Kirkpatrick as well as Liaison Officer and Church St. Neighbourhood Officer Rob Chevalier.
"Today is an opportunity to recognize both our internal LGBTQ2S members and members within the community," said Supt. Crooker. "Raising the flag to me is a symbol of unity, hope, togetherness and healing. The Service continues to evolve and continues to create a space of inclusivity. Although Pride month is a time to celebrate the LGBQ2S communities, it is important that we recognize and not forget the LGBTQ2S members who are no longer with us. I hope that raising the flag acts as a symbol that we are committed to the work it will take as an organization to rebuild relationships with our LGBTQ2S communities."
She says TPS members are committed to meaningful change through implementing the recommendations of the Epstein report as well as acknowledging past mistakes.
"We need to move from words to actions by working closer with the community. We cannot be the loudest voice at the table, we need to listen to the community and work hard to co-create a space for the community to heal," she said.
Constable Chevalier, who also polices the Church-Yonge Corridor as a Neighbourhood Officer, said Pride is an inclusive celebration but also a remembrance of the struggle of members of the LGBTQ2S+ communities to be recognized.
“It is a time to celebrate what makes us who we are but also a time to remember those we have lost and those who brought us to where we are today,” said Chevalier.
Supt. Chris Kirkpatrick said as an ally he is committed to building trust and working together alongside community members in the LGBTQ2S+ Community Consultative Committee.
“We will be guided by what the community wants to see in policing,” Kirkpatrick said.
The flag was lowered after the event to honour the lives of the 215 children found in a mass grave at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.