July 2, 2019 3:43 pm

Sask. RCMP officer aims to strengthen relations between LGBTQ and police

Corporal Rielly Knock (right) with Sask. RCMP and Senior Constable Ben Bjarnesen from Queensland Police in Australia at the World LGBTQ Conference for Criminal Justice Professionals in Toronto, which ran from June 19-21.

Provided / Rielly Knock

Cpl. Rielly Knock described the experience as “amazing” after spending three days in Toronto discussing LGBTQ issues in the police force.

It was the second World LGBTQ Conference for Criminal Justice Professionals, which ran from June 19-21.

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Knock said the event focused on what could be done to better support LGBTQ officers and their relationship with the public.

“Everybody just wants to do better for their community and bring everybody onto one even playing ground,” Knock said.

“It’s more about a lack of education than anything and if we can be visible and say ‘hey, this transgender issue isn’t just an issue, it’s a person, it’s me’ that can go a long way.”

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For the past 12 years, Knock has been an RCMP officer in La Loche and Meadow Lake, Sask., and two years ago, he came out as transgender.

He said there is a mistrust when it comes to the LGBTQ community and police, preventing some people to report crimes.

“We have to do better. We have to let them know there are police officers that are part of their community as well. Saying that may make it a little less scary for some of those people,” Knock said.

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There were 175 different law force personnel who attended the conference, representing 15 countries across the world.

Gathering all in one place gave them a chance to talk about what is and isn’t working.

Some police agencies have created LGBTQ liaison positions as a way of getting their face out in the community, creating contacts and breaking down barriers.

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“We can take from the foundations they’ve started with these liaison positions and turn that into something we can use here on a provincial level,” Knock said.

“I think it’s really important to have those positions in place. If we can use what somebody else has already created as a base, we can certainly make it our own.”

The first World LGBTQ Conference for Criminal Justice Professionals took place in Amsterdam in 2016.

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