Cornwall police equity, diversity plan has ‘only scratched the surface’

Cornwall Police Service Staff Sgt. Tracey Pilon gives a report to the police board on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022. Two years in, Pilon says the equity, diversity and inclusivity policy still has a tremendous amount of work ahead of it. (CPS/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – The head of the Cornwall Police Service’s equity and diversity plan says the program has “only scratched the surface” after two years.

Staff Sgt. Tracey Pilon gave an update to the police board Thursday morning on what has taken place since the launch of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) policy in 2020.

Pilon says employees have gone through 17 different training sessions with a number of guest speakers on topics like unconscious bias and systemic racism. There have been 431 people trained at all levels.

The EDI policy also focused on the Cornwall Police Service itself. Half the service speaks French, there are four First Nations, three Metis and five mixed Indigenous members. Thirteen per cent of the force is non-heterosexual and 9 per cent have a disability.

Pilon also highlighted the community survey that saw nearly 1,500 respondents. It shows nearly 20 per cent of those asked are Indigenous or visible minority, 9.5 per cent are LGBTQ and 13 per cent have a disability.

She says the police service now needs to meet with those minority groups to build trust and explore their unique needs.

The EDI plan will look to hold “listening tables” this year and build on its partnerships and reputation in the community with minority and marginalized groups.

“We are completely aware that we have only scratched the surface and that there is a tremendous amount of work yet to be done. We are excited now as when we first embarked on this journey. We remain equally committed to executing our action plan to build and maintain trust, enhance relationships and identify and address barriers,” Pilon said.

Police Chief Shawna Spowart says she is proud of the work and progress made.