Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
Mr. Chair and members of the distinguished committee, as a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, it's a privilege to be here on behalf of our president, Chief Adam Palmer of the Vancouver Police Department.
Let me begin by saying that we live in a great country, although, as great as it is, racism is an insidious part of Canada's history and continues to be a reality in the communities across our nation today. Study after study, including a series of government-commissioned reports, continues to demonstrate that we have an issue with systemic racism throughout our judicial system, which includes our legal system, our courts and our police services across the nation.
The voices of black, indigenous and other members of our community were clearly heard recently as they conducted peaceful rallies across our country with calls to action regarding police interactions and the way we provide policing services to our communities. Our communities have expressed concerns about policing practices and systemic racism, including racial profiling. Black, indigenous and other ethnocultural groups have also condemned their overrepresentation in our judicial system as well as their treatment within our judicial system.
This is a powerful movement. It's also a powerful moment that we are experiencing, one that has culminated after more than a century of systemic racism in Canada. The Canadian chiefs believe the time is overdue: It is time for meaningful change in all aspects of our society. Tackling racism requires a concerted response from the entire community, including your police services. It is required to bring vision and to take courageous, bold leadership in our organizations and in our relationships with our respective communities.
Here in Canada, the approach to policing has significantly evolved and changed over time. Our police services have developed many strong relationships over the years with the communities we serve, shifting the emphasis from a focus on law enforcement to community engagement, community well-being, and a public-led, proactive crime prevention model that reflects true and meaningful partnerships. Our association is focused on the development of progressive, community-oriented leadership at all levels. We believe this approach is a key success factor to addressing the issue of systemic racism that affects our members and our communities as well as the trust and confidence within policing services across Canada.
There is much talk about improving mental health within both policing and our communities. We must achieve diversity, equity and inclusion in police services. The Canadian chiefs association strives to support tangible change in a meaningful way within the organizations we represent.
For this reason, diversity, equity and inclusion represent one of our nine national strategic policing priorities that guide the work of our association. A CACP committee is devoted to equity, diversity and inclusion. It was established in early 2018. It is committed to support our efforts and its membership to create and enhance practices that promote fairness, equity and inclusion through the identification, mitigation and elimination of implicit bias and discrimination in practices, polices and procedures; to remove systemic barriers; and to promote the advancement of inclusive, diverse and human rights equity within police institutions across our nation.
To achieve the cultural and operational change that is required, we feel it's important to begin with a common vocabulary and a common understanding of the key concepts that will help to identify, mitigate and be proactive to prevent racism and discrimination within policing across Canada as well as during our interactions with the communities we serve. As such, we have defined specifically for our membership the true meaning in our organizations of equity, diversity and inclusion.
When you look at police training and recruitment and oversight within Canada, police training and civilian oversight in Canada are among the best in the world. We should be proud of our accomplishments in policing within Canada. That being said, there's always room for improvement, advancement and modernization. Reflecting the powers and authorities invested in them, our officers and our members are carefully selected. We increasingly face more rigorous scrutiny and screening to try to ensure that our members meet and espouse the values of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, which consist of courage, integrity, respect, transparency, inclusiveness, excellence and compassion.
We are working on enhancing our recruitment, hiring and promotional processes nationally to increase the quality of our candidates as well as to accelerate the diversification of our organizations so that we can be more representative of and more responsive to the communities that we serve.
Much progress has been made to embed accountability within our teams and expectations to model professional, equitable and inclusive behaviours and leadership, but clearly we need to do more.
Our officers are also provided extensive training that goes well beyond basic policing. That includes training on cultural awareness, sensitivity, de-escalation and emotional intelligence. Again, much progress has been made, but your chiefs are open to new approaches and strive to continuously improve within a national framework for policing. This includes investing in and involving communities in our training and our processes to understand what works and what doesn't work and where we can grow.
Once officers are hired and trained, they have more accountability and independent civilian oversight than almost any other profession within Canada. Again meaningful improvements can be made.
Race-based data collection is a key. We must embark on a course of change with regard to how we can tell we are making progress. The problem is the data doesn't currently exist to accurately define the scope and breadth of the problem of systemic racism within Canada. The collection of data on indigenous and ethno-cultural identity has been subject to much discussion. Last month, the CACP issued a joint statement with Statistics Canada announcing our commitment to work together to meet this important information need for justice within Canada and the Canadian public committed to advancing racial equity.
Together we will work with policing communities and key organizations to enable the police to report statistics on indigenous and ethnocultural groups in police-reported crime statistics on victimization and accused persons to include important context and avoid stigmatizing communities. We believe this initiative will help.
Racism, whether systemic or individual, is painful and inexcusable, and it will not be tolerated by your Canadian police leaders. Stopping systemic racism requires a whole-of-society approach. While improvements are required in policing, your chiefs are committed to supporting positive change in this regard.