MPP asks province to provide $1M in funding for Thunder Bay police
THUNDER BAY, Ont. — An Ontario legislator and Thunder Bay police are asking the province for additional funding to implement recommendations in a report that found systemic racism within the police service.
Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Judith Monteith-Farrell sent an open letter to Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones on Friday, asking the province to provide more than $1 million for the police force to create a major case unit and improve training for its officers.
“The crisis of trust between Indigenous people and the Thunder Bay Police Service requires immediate action. Our province needs to take seriously the need for reconciliation without delay,” Monteith-Farrell wrote.
The request comes after the Office of the Independent Police Review Director released a report last month making 44 recommendations regarding issues between the police force and the city’s Indigenous community.
The review found that police investigations into the deaths of nine Indigenous people were so problematic that they should be reinvestigated.
“The failure to conduct adequate investigations and the premature conclusions drawn in these cases is, at least in part, attributable to racist attitudes and racial stereotyping,” the 206-page report said.
“Officers repeatedly relied on generalized notions about how Indigenous people likely came to their deaths and acted, or refrained from acting, based on those biases.”
Jones’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and a spokesman for Thunder Bay police said the police force has not heard back from the provincial government.
Earlier this week, police chief Sylvie Hauth presented a report to the city’s police board that outlined a budget for the year that addresses the report’s recommendations.
In her report, Hauth said there is an “urgent need” for the police service and board to ask the government for the additional $1 million in funding to cover costs such as a major case unit and anti-racism training. Hauth also hopes to add three officers to the police force’s Aboriginal Liaison unit.
“Further discussions and analysis of current resources need to occur in order to ensure that we are an effective and efficient service and that we have the trust of the community we serve and protect,” Hauth’s report stated.
Monteith-Farrell made reference to Hauth’s request in her letter to Jones, saying the province should provide the force with “the tools and resources it needs to work towards the implementation of the recommendations of the OIPRD report.”
— By Alanna Rizza in Toronto
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2019
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