London Police Services Board Chair addresses systemic racism with letter to the board

Dr. Javeed Sukhera has been named to the London Police Services Board.
Dr. Javeed Sukhera has been named to the London Police Services Board. London Police Service

At their monthly meeting, the Chair of the London Police Services Board (LPSB) presented a letter of 12 proposed actions for the board to address racism in policing.

The recommendations were broken down into six key areas, the first of which proposed the board direct London Police Chief, Steve Williams find savings within the police budget so the funds can be redistributed elsewhere.

One of the key issues for the upcoming Black Lives Matter rally is defunding London Police Service and reallocating the funds towards underfunded areas in the city budget, such as food security, mental health programs and housing.

From 2010 to 2019, the amount of funding allocated towards police increased by around 35 per cent in the council approved budget, which during the same timeframe only went up 14 percent in total.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are witnessing a historic moment, and we have a choice to make. As the Police Services Board, we can and should take decisive action on the issue of anti-Black racism,” said Dr. Javeed Sukhera, chair of the LPSB.

“Wherever possible, we should appreciate that incremental reforms are not enough to achieve the transformational change necessary to address systemic racism in all phases of our community.”

Among the other recommendations, Sukhera proposed were advocating for sustainable funding for community-police partnerships in mental health and proposing a roundtable on anti-racism and mental health crisis response.

The letter also recommends consulting with School Boards and racialized Londoners about the role of school resource officers. The letter also calls for Williams to give the board a plan for addressing systemic racism in the service and working with LPS to collect more data on race-based policing.

Williams responded to the letter, saying they are taking the situation very seriously and are “fully committed to carry out concrete actions.”

In the past, he said it’s possible police did more talking than listening, and moving forward, they would work to determine people’s needs better.

Williams also said important when talking about funding cuts to consider that police logged a combined 32,000 overtime hours last year.

Story continues below advertisement

At the meeting, the board agreed to recommend to council that the hiring of three more officers be deferred until 2021 and instead reallocate that money to an area in need like homeless prevention.

City councillor and board member Maureen Cassidy said that moving forward, more actions need to be seen not just from the board and LPS, but also from the community and society as a whole.

“I know this is the first step, but I am fearful of going too slowly and taking too many really small steps when people want a great big, giant leap.”

Talk of this comes nearly two weeks after an estimated 10,000 people gathered in London’s Victoria Park to call for an end of police brutality towards Black people and Indigenous people.

This Saturday at 3 p.m. Black Lives Matter London has organized its second protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

Sponsored content