Human rights group says RCMP, native relationship 'dysfunctional' - The Globe and Mail
Advocates say police discrimination against Indigenous people echoes hundreds of years of relationship between Indigenous people and. A leading human rights lawyer is helping spearhead a Black Lives Matter- inspired campaign to help Aboriginal communities fight alleged. The hiring of a small number of Aboriginal officers would be misinterpreted as a transparent gesture designed to pacify relations with police among Aboriginals.
It has developed an informational video to be shown on public television as well as posters to be distributed around the city. The four officers are engaged in the performance of regular duties while the program is in its development stage.
Although there have been discussions about visiting reserves in an effort to attract Aboriginal applicants, that does not appear to have been done to date.
However, this program has been working without a budget since May Many of these stem from racial stereotypes and misconceptions about the intent of employment equity programs. Neil McDonald is a former professor of education who now is involved in training and educational programs, and in the development of training materials for public and private agencies.
Building relations between police and the Aboriginal community
He has conducted courses on cross-cultural training for recruits and senior officers of the Winnipeg Police Department. McDonald testified that there was a general misunderstanding on the part of those entering the force as to what employment equity was about. He also said that members of the recruit class of Augustfor example, made very strong negative racist statements about Aboriginal people.
He stated that he had heard such sentiments frequently, but seldom so aggressively expressed. McDonald found that there were very strong feelings in this group about employment equity because of the possibility that the department might hire people from the Aboriginal community.
There was a perception that just because a person was black or Aboriginal, he or she need only apply to the police force to be accepted on that basis. Recruits feared that an affirmative action program might jeopardize their future safety by encumbering them with underqualified partners.Aboriginal police officer closes the gap in his community
It is not only among recruits that there is opposition to employment equity. Chief Stephen told us he is opposed to the use of quotas. The use of quotas is a well-recognized means of ensuring that employment equity programs achieve results and are not merely public relations exercises.
But Stephen said that he believed that every recruit or applicant must compete for the available spaces. The current procedure is that if two applicants are considered to be equally qualified, preference may be given to the Aboriginal applicant.
From what we heard about the selection criteria, we doubt if the present system will allow any Aboriginal applicants to be considered equal in every category with other applicants. There is now a requirement that recruits must have completed grade Chief Stephen said that this requirement must be maintained because anyone with less than a grade 12 education would find it difficult to perform his or her duties properly.
Stronger Relationships Between Police And Aboriginal Communities | Premier of Victoria
Stephen testified that it would be a disservice to the police department to vary the grade 12 requirement. He said police work continues to become increasingly complex and "lowering the standard" for Aboriginal recruits would make it difficult for them to be accepted by other members of the department.
We tend to agree with this latter concern. It would be unfair, in our view, to have different and "lower" standards for Aboriginal recruits. It is our view that society generally, and Aboriginal people in particular, would not benefit from the application of less stringent or less demanding entry criteria for Aboriginal members than for non-Aboriginal members of the Winnipeg Police Department, and we do not advocate that.
However, we believe that varying the way in which the Winnipeg Police Department approaches educational requirements so as to make them more fair would not lower the quality of police recruits, nor would it be a disservice to the department.
The conclusion that a person is proved competent by completing grade 12 leads almost automatically to the conclusion that anyone who does not is incompetent. The assumption that completion of grade 12 is a reasonable basis for comparison of individuals, however, is based upon a false premise: For Aboriginal people that has not been the case. Aboriginal people historically have been denied equal educational opportunities and resources in Manitoba, and throughout Canada.
The residential school system, which was operated by the Department of Indian Affairs throughout Canada as late as the s, was a colossal failure in providing suitable education to Indian children. Very few children ever completed high school within that system, primarily because it was not geared to educate but to acculturate. That system and the subsequent policy of educating Indian children in the provincial public school system usually required them to attend school in communities away from their reserves, sometimes hundreds of miles away.
The public school system continued the acculturative bias against Aboriginal children, generally teaching them material in ways which denied to them the relevance of their cultures and identities as Aboriginal people. The resulting feelings of alienation greatly contributed to Aboriginal children leaving school at the first opportunity. It was not until that the Government of Canada altered its policy of acculturation and instituted a more meaningful policy of "Indian Control of Indian Education.
Most Aboriginal communities in Manitoba still lack adequate high school facilities and Aboriginal parents still must send their children out of their communities to attend high school.
As attractive as this may be to some, it is still much more difficult to attend and successfully complete school in a distant community, where family supports and contacts are lacking, and social and school supports are foreign.
Even those Aboriginal communities which do have their own high schools are disadvantaged. The Department of Indian Affairs provides them with a lower level of financial and other resources than that received by provincially funded schools in the rest of the province.
Aboriginal people in urban areas continue to face an alienating public educational system which actually discourages Aboriginal children by discounting the importance of their identity. The public school system is rooted in and biased in favour of the cultures of European societies.
Chief Stephen is quite correct in his assertion that completing grade 12 is an indication of achievement. What he perhaps does not realize is that, for Aboriginal children, it is considerably more of an achievement than for non-Aboriginal ones.
In the light of such historic disadvantage, using grade 12 criterion as a prerequisite for entry into the police department affects the Aboriginal community more adversely than the rest of society. American courts have declared this form of impact unlawful.
Aboriginal-police relations - Creative Spirits
In that case, the employer historically had hired only whites but, following the American Civil Rights Act ofhad changed that policy. It instituted a hiring process that included, among other things, a condition that all employee applicants had to have a grade 12 standing to be hired or promoted.
The Supreme Court held that the use of the grade 12 criterion in that circumstance amounted to a "built-in headwind" for black people and systematically excluded more of them from being considered for employment and promotion than white people.
The court noted that there were other, non-discriminatory ways of determining ability. Language and motor skills could be assessed otherwise, as could general intelligence. Finally, the court took note of the fact that completing high school did not automatically give a person the skills necessary to perform employment-related tasks.
It went on to rule that to use grade 12 in those circumstances, in a way that resulted in abnormally higher numbers of blacks being excluded, amounted to systemic discrimination. We believe that the same considerations should apply in this instance.
Having a grade 12 standing does not indicate much, some believe, but it might arguably indicate the following: If that is why the Winnipeg Police Department uses grade 12 as a criterion, we believe that all these abilities can be measured in alternative ways that will not affect Aboriginal people adversely and still will enable the Winnipeg Police Department to obtain police recruits with acceptable skill levels and achievement orientation.
It is our opinion that adequately skilled Aboriginal people, capable of doing police work, are being excluded unfairly by the use of the grade 12 criterion. We conclude that the simplistic application of the grade 12 criterion for police recruits has an adverse impact on Aboriginal people, in that it unreasonably and systematically excludes more of them from entry into the Winnipeg Police Department than any other group. We conclude, as well, that better alternatives exist to determine or measure whatever it is that the use of the grade 12 criterion is believed to show, including achievement, intelligence, knowledge and skills.
Its continued use in the face of such conclusions amounts to systemic discrimination. In addition, we understand that any one of a number of other "standards" may be used by Winnipeg Police Department recruiters to eliminate a candidate. Candidates are required not only to have a complete grade 12, but also to pass a physical test and undergo two interviews before being considered for the department.
We were told of an Aboriginal candidate who applied three times for admission to the department. The first time he was turned down because he lacked his grade So he went back to school. Then he applied again, but this time he failed to do the required number of sit-ups in the allotted time. He was failed again. He applied once more and this time did the required number of sit-ups, but did not perform another physical test as well as he had on his previous attempt and, was failed once more.
He gave up applying.
The program offered upgrading to a grade 12 equivalency so that applicants could meet the grade 12 requirement of the Winnipeg Police Department and the RCMP. However, during the three years of the program, only one of the 16 Aboriginal students who completed the course was accepted into the Winnipeg Police Department.
Although all the students had the requisite grade 12 and passed the physical tests, they either failed the character reference segment one had a bad credit rating or "failed" the interview. The process of recruitment for the Winnipeg Police Department appears to have far too many built-in "gatekeeping" rules.
We believe that any recruitment or employee selection process should use criteria which fairly assess candidates on their overall intelligence, knowledge, abilities, performance and history.
Recruits should not be eliminated for failing only one element. Recruits should be scored in a variety of categories, including their membership in and ability to communicate with a minority group, and overall scores should be used to determine suitable candidates.
In this way, additional marks would be given to applicants who can speak an Aboriginal language, understand Aboriginal society and demonstrate a special ability to deal with Aboriginal people. Making Aboriginal status a positive element of recruitment can only, in our view, result in a better police department, able to provide policing services more effectively and appropriately to the citizens of Winnipeg. That leads us to conclude that a strong remedy is justified. The employment equity program of the City of Winnipeg Police Department was intended to address the poor relations between the police and Aboriginal community, but has not improved the situation.
Aboriginal people continue to be affected unfairly and adversely by the recruitment, training and hiring processes of the department.
- Aboriginal-police relations
- Stronger Relationships Between Police And Aboriginal Communities
- The Campaign To Help Aboriginal People Fight Police Harassment
The recruiting standards of the department have resulted in a disparately negative impact on Aboriginal people, and have had the effect of eliminating Aboriginal people at various points in the recruitment and hiring process.
The development of educational standards and institutionalized prejudices historically has resulted in the exclusion of Aboriginal people, who systematically have been denied a full opportunity to demonstrate their individual abilities as police officers. Aboriginal people need to know that they will no longer be unfairly denied access to those opportunities for which they are not only qualified but for which they are as qualified as other applicants.
Human rights group says RCMP, native relationship 'dysfunctional'
Hiring sufficient numbers of Aboriginal officers will require a massive recruiting and training effort by the Winnipeg Police Department. In December there were 18 Aboriginal officers on the force, out of a total of 1, officers. Since Aboriginal people make up Such a significant increase will be accomplished only through an effective employment equity program which develops more suitable entry criteria and sets recruitment quotas to bring racial and cultural balance to the workforce.
Practices, procedures and criteria barring Aboriginal people from becoming police officers must be eliminated and employment equity measures implemented. More energetic recruitment efforts are needed. Barriers to the training and hiring of Aboriginal people must be eliminated. Occupational qualifications and requirements should be amended to permit more Aboriginal applicants. The grade 12 educational criterion has an adverse impact on Aboriginal people and is not a legitimate standard.
Several of these videos have gone viral and been used in criminal court cases, including perhaps most famously that of Philando Castile, whose shooting by police was captured on video and streamed on Facebook by his partner.
We think there will be better behaviour all round, and that the relationship between police ad communities will improve. That may ultimately end up with lower incarceration rates. Tanya Mitchell, a criminal law lecturer at the University of Sydney who has worked with Indigenous and rural legal services, says it is "the million dollar question" for researchers.
Some communities may be impacted by the legacy of colonisation more than others. Over-policing is also a factor," she told HuffPost Australia. Newhouse said the trigger for Copwatch was the death of teenager Elijah Doughty in Kalgoorlie last year. The year-old was allegedly run down by a local motorist while riding a motorbike police believe was stolen, which led to violence and rioting in the town. We examined ways of releasing the tension and frustration the community was a feeling as a result of over-policing and discrimination in the town," Newhouse said.
The project is about empowering people to tell their own stories, use social media to get the message out, and explaining their legal rights and obligations. He said he looked forward to the program rolling out across his region.
Police provide services to the community. The services have changed, and it's getting to a point where there's so much abuse of power, fabrication, intimidation of communities," Jones claimed to HuffPost Australia. It's all about gathering evidence, alerting communities to their rights, and using this information and tools. It gives our people comfort to know this behaviour is not acceptable in the community. We don't accept this.