A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENTContemporary Challenges and Changes in PolicingBy Chief Gary ConnResolutions and positions taken by the OACP are guiding our advocacy for progressive and effective policing. We anticipate that the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act will come into force in 2023 and provide substantial changes to policing and improve community safety in Ontario. The philosophical shift from policing and community safety to one of partnerships (relationship building) and community wellness, along with the recognition that policing is only one element of a safe and healthy community, has resulted in the provincially mandated municipal Community Safety and Well-Being plans.The sustainable funding model for policing in Ontario continues to place further strains on police organizations as police service boards and councils review budgets for efficiencies, including the possibility of services shifting from law enforcement agencies to outside agencies. Police leaders have always appreciated fiscal responsibility and the fact that the public will and should inquire into publicly funded investments regarding our profession. Subsequently, we have advocated for the Government of Ontario to collaboratively work with us, police service boards and municipal leaders to conduct an official review into police funding. This would include the concept of cost recovery for services rendered for mass gatherings at unsanctioned events and revenues generated through alternative funding models such as automated speed enforcement.Protecting Our People Because of the constant exposure to interpersonal violence, a fear of revenge from the criminal element, intense public scrutiny and overwhelming workloads due to the circumstances of this demanding profession, some officers will experience catastrophic events that ultimately impact their lives and limit their ability to return to frontline duties. Police leaders have and will continue to work with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), police associations and other policing stakeholders to enhance supports, services and processes for police personnel dealing with workplace injuries.The WSIB is currently exploring an increase in compensation from 85 per cent to 90 per cent of Replace with Loss of Earnings, and the Government of Ontario is administering a program to distribute $45 million over three years to support programs providing public safety personnel with access to specialized mental health services. Additionally, we have seen a 33-percent increase in case managers. These are all steps in the right direction, but the Government of Ontario must actively lead when it comes to WSIB legislative and regulatory reform in order to enhance WSIB processes for police personnel and our organizations.I am proud to have been part of a board of directors that, in 2020, made the OACP the first major Canadian policing group to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism in our profession. The OACP Board remains committed to working with and supporting the Association of Black Law Enforcers (ABLE) on anti-Black racism and the Indigenous Police Chiefs of Ontario (IPCO) on truth and reconciliation, including the residential schools issue. In order to address and mitigate these pressing issues, our Anti-Racism Working Group and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee have both engaged in dialogue with our members to identify action items on policies, procedures, training, education and service delivery related to systemic racism which all our committees can address in this coming year. I am excited that, through discussions and collaboration with IPCO and the Ontario Provincial Police, we are developing Indigenous Awareness Training for all police leaders that will include both an in-class room and an Indigenous community visit component.Organizational improvement along with organizational culture change should not be seen or tackled as a series of short-term solutions. Cultural and organizational change takes time, and time is a slow change agent. Our profession and vocation has always taken pride in being both progressive and inclusive, while being fair, equitable and impartial at all times.Chief Gary Conn is the Chief of Police for the Chatham-Kent Police Service and served as the OACP President in 2021-2022.
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