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#ReportHate campaign launches in Calgary

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November 1, 2023 in Features
By the Calgary Police Service

Photo Credit: Justin Hayward/Cavalry FC Media

From left to right are Kelly Mergen, Const. Matt Messenger, Insp. Avril Martin and Sgt. Greg McNeil.

The Calgary Police Service (CPS) is partnering with the Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League to kick off Report Hate, a campaign to bring awareness to hate crimes and incidents, their impact, and how to report them.

Earlier this year, CPS Chief Constable Mark Neufeld and the Hate Crime Prevention Team attended the Alberta Hate Crimes Symposium to hear directly from the community the impact of hate in the province.

“The statistics painted a very clear picture. Hate crimes and incidents are experienced by one in three Albertans, and many of those go unreported. We knew increasing awareness, continued education, and a campaign could help Calgarians understand why it is so important that these incidents are reported,” says Const. Matt Messenger, Hate Crime Co-ordinator for the CPS.

Calgary is the third most diverse city in Canada, and this campaign is highly visible across the city, with advertising campaigns in locations that are home to the most diverse communities. The CPS also used their large social media following to boost posts across all CPS-branded platforms. The Service plans to continue the campaign throughout the year, partnering with other local sports organizations, community groups and notable Calgarians.

The CPS has one of the only units in the country that combines hate investigation, prevention, and outreach into one unit. The dedicated team comprised of the Hate Crime Co-ordinator and a Crime and Intelligence Analyst leave no stone unturned in their efforts to identify and investigate any case that carries the potential to be motivated by hate or bias.

In addition to investigating incidents, the team has also been in the community at schools, events, and important community days to create positive opportunities for outreach and relationship building. The unit is focused on raising awareness of hate incidents that have the potential to become criminal offences, as well as raising awareness internally to sworn officers on how to recognize any component of hate and to report it accordingly.

The unit has worked to build relationships across community, so that when there is a crisis, a hate crime or incident, there is already familiarity and enough trust built to reassure the victims that the incident will be investigated seriously, with a trauma-informed lens and adequate supports provided to assist them through the process.

“Without trust from the community, many people will not come forward when they are victims,” says Insp. Avril Martin of the CPS. “It is our job to continue to build and strengthen relationships to the point that community has full trust and faith that their concern will be handled with the care and seriousness it deserves.”

This is not just the work of one unit alone. This is the work of every single person in the Service who comes into contact with Calgarians everyday. Creating awareness and education internally ensures CPS officers are familiar with what is and isn’t a hate crime or incident when they are investigating complaints, and that they are reporting these incidents, even if they do not meet the threshold for a hate crime, to establish a history of hate, should it be required in the future.

All this work cannot be done without first listening to the community to understand barriers, frustrations, and fear of reporting these events, and then implementing solutions. Hate impacts more than just the victim; entire communities can be affected from one act of hate. The #ReportHate campaign was created as a direct solution to address what the CPS heard from the community and to ensure all Calgarians feel safe in their city.

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