London police board launches systemic racism survey

London police headquarters on Dundas St. file photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News

The London Police Services Board is asking Londoners to weigh in on ways to rid the city of systemic racism in policing.

A new online community survey was launched by the board on Monday. It includes four sections ranging from providing feedback on the board’s current 12 anti-racism recommendations to floating ideas on additional initiatives the board could undertake.

The board began hammering out an internal strategy to address racism within the police service following a Black Lives Matter rally held in London in June. Hundreds of Londoners attended the event, protesting racism and police brutality toward black people that came to the forefront following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for roughly eight minutes.

Of the 12 recommendations made, the board is prioritizing the need to realign police funding with more investment in community and social services, improving responses for those suffering mental health and addiction issues, embedding anti-racism into police service initiatives, and improving the collection of race-based data.

The board also plans to address the concerns related to school resource officers. Members of the black and Indigenous communities have voiced concerns about having armed officers walking the halls of schools, stating the sight of uniformed officers can trigger fear.

As it continues its consultation with the London community, the board is also proposing to create two new citizen advisory committees. One would be on anti-racism, the other on mental health and addiction. Those selected to sit on the committees would be tasks with advising the board on the two priority areas.

The board will provide a full update on its work to remove systemic racism from the police service at its next meeting on Thursday.

To participate in the online survey click here.