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CHALLENGING ASSUMPTIONS


November 20, 2012
By Keith Merith

1197 words – MR

Challenging assumptions

The Association of Black Law Enforcers (ABLE) is a non-profit organization formed in 1992 to address the needs and concerns of black and other racial minorities in law enforcement and the community. The membership includes police, law enforcement officers and community members.

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I am honoured to be able to serve in the capacity of president of this great organization and appreciative of the opportunity to host this event. The chosen theme, “Challenging assumptions, shifting attitudes, redefining change,” accurately denotes our function throughout ABLE’s existence.

in the early days was risky business. Forming an organization such as ABLE was viewed by some as racially divisive and unnecessary. Seven insightful and brave founding members challenged these assumptions and did what was right in addressing racial discrimination and unfair work practices.

is evident in the respect and inclusion that this association has received from many of the organizations that make up our criminal justice system and the community at large. Institutions big and small engaged in the business of justice are reaching out to ABLE for advice or requesting our point of view on evolving matters.

speaks to the collection of organizational wisdom vetted through time that guides our perspective on change. Change speaks to transformation and in that change we have built current and future leaders in all aspects of life.

We have been blessed with leaders such as Jay Hope, Keith Ford, Peter Sloly, David McLeod and Dave Mitchell, each of whom have redefined change and made us see and aspire to new heights and elevated dreams. We draw on their accomplishments to inspire the new collection of members that are keen to do the same.

So what have we achieved over the years?

Well, let’s start with having a current and a retired deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service (TPS), a retired assistant commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, a retired deputy minister, a regional director and two female superintendents of correctional services, all of whom are members of this association.

We are truly blessed to have the opportunity to present scholarship awards to these extremely worthy recipients. We honour their commitment to making a difference and affecting change in their community. In addition we honour these young people who exemplify our theme. The members of ABLE hope their goals will include a commitment to service.

The road to success is not always straight. There are curbs called failure, loops called confusion, speed bumps called friends, red lights called enemies, caution signs called families and flat tires called jobs, but if you have a spare called “determination,” an engine called “perseverance” with insurance called “faith” and the drive to make it, you will succeed. As you move forward always remember that one of life’s tasks is not to take simple things and make them complicated in order to serve yourself but quite the opposite. Take complicated things and make them simple to enrich others.

Progress depends on the choices we make today for tomorrow.

ABLE is strong and its future is bright. In the coming years, as part of our go forward plan, we will dedicate more time and effort into uplifting our youth by offering sound mentoring and coaching at every level of growth. We will continue to build positive constructive relationships in our diverse communities by working with community partners to provide effective dialog and a commitment to service.

We will also continue petitioning for the hiring and promotion of diverse law enforcement officers and criminal justice workers.

ABLE leads by example, providing the knowledge base, required skills and proven ability to achieve. This association celebrates the past, deals with the present and prepares for the future.

Members have made a commitment to service that is self evident. Our work has made a positive difference in the lives of so many and has contributed toward the development of better communities in this great country. We must stay the course and continue to do what is right.

We must work together as a unified group equipped with our wisdom, experience, sense of justice, education and sense of fair play. History has taught us that together we can achieve. We are proud stakeholders in our respective agencies and cannot afford to give up ground that we have strived so hard to achieve.

SIDEBAR

{Vision}

ABLE is founded on the vision of law enforcement professionals who adopted respect, courtesy, service and professionalism as core values to guide its members and their work.

We acknowledge with pride the dedication of black people who have contributed to law enforcement in Canada.

We as an association celebrate the past, deal with the present and prepare for the future.

ABLE will continue to recognize and respect its partnership with all law enforcement agencies.

Goals and objectives

• Build bridges between law enforcement agencies and the community at large

• Support the pursuit of post-secondary education and provide scholarship opportunities to racial minority youth

• Improve the image of law enforcement in the community

• Promote racial harmony and cultural pride within the law enforcement community

• Educate the community about and promote understanding of the law

• Encourage membership from among black and racial minority law enforcers and persons and organizations interested in furthering ABLE’s objectives

• Provide information, support, counselling and professional advice to all members

• Promote professionalism among ABLE members

{History}

“The formation of the association marks a new level of maturity in the black community in Ontario and, in my view, will contribute greatly to the promotion of the public good” – Federal court Chief Justice Julius Isaac in greetings sent to ABLE’s inaugural ball April 20, 1993.

ABLE was the vision of a group of black law enforcement professionals who met October 24, 1992 to establish the foundation of an organization with the principal aim of being a force for positive change in the society in which they lived and worked.

“With the (ABLE) constitution serving as our roadmap… (we) will provide a high level of service to our members, our community and the greater law enforcement profession. Our commitment as professionals will assist in meeting the challenges of the future” – an early statement from David Mitchell, the first ABLE president.

Scarborough graduate student Dwight Williams designed the familiar ABLE logo. This unique identifier graced the cover of our inaugural ball magazine in June 1993.

{ABLE and racial profiling}

“ABLE acknowledges that the vast majority of law enforcement officers in our country perform their duties in a professional, honourable and ethical manner. At the same time, we accept the presence of the law enforcement phenomenon known as racial profiling.

ABLE has adopted the following definition of racial profiling:

Investigative or enforcement activity initiated by an individual officer based on his or her stereotypical, prejudicial or racist perceptions of who is likely to be involved in wrong doing or criminal activity. This conduct is systemically facilitated when there is ineffective policy, training, monitoring and control mechanisms in a system” – a statement on racial profiling published by ABLE president David Mitchell May 24, 2003.