Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit

The Waterloo Regional Police Service’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Unit was inaugurated in 2017 and began to lead the Service in actively pursuing a diverse and inclusive workforce, as well as creating equitable outcomes for our members and the community we serve.

Today, the EDI Unit includes both sworn and civilian members, who come from a variety of backgrounds including the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) community, the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and the South Asian community. The unit is also collectively fluent in multiple languages.

Further demonstrating their commitment to a safer, more inclusive community, members of the Unit are committed to volunteering at a variety of community organizations including a local 2SLGBTQ+ organization, youth fitness and skating programs, and programs involving persons with intellectual disabilities.

Over the last several years much progress has been made in the EDI Unit, including the launch of internal training on a variety of topics including Indigenous awareness and implicit bias awareness, and the development the first ever Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan.

The Unit is passionate about their work within WRPS and the community, and is thankful for the support of Chief Larkin and the Executive Leadership Team to carry out their mandate of utilizing equity, inclusion, and diversity principles to support and help cultivate a safe and inclusive Waterloo Region.

If you have any questions or comments, please email us at EDI@wrps.on.ca.

Hate Crime

Incidents and crimes rooted in hate continue to be underreported in Canada. But your voice can change that. If you see or experience hate, report it. We want everyone to live in a safe space, and by reporting, we can investigate these matters, bring appropriate charges, help support victims to create a safer, inclusive community.

Together we can stop the hate.

Learn more about hate crime

Events

We are committed to community outreach and proactive engagement.  Below are just some of the events we attend and initiatives from the Inclusion and Equity Officer and Diversity Committee. 

To invite us to your community event, fill out the Community Event Request Form!

 Recent Events

  • International Day of Pink
  • Chinese New Year events
  • Pride Flag Raising event and tri-Pride
  • National Aboriginal Day event
  • KW Multi-cultural festival
  • Link Picnic
  • Church of God Picnic
  • Africa Camp
  • Five Days of Fun
  • Passitforward Hockey Fun
  • International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Event
  • Sai Bhakti Dham Event
  • MELA festval
  • Indigenous Event with Mini Ode Kwewak N'gamowak  (The Good Hearted Women Singers)
  • Iftar Events

 News

Illuminating Hate Crime Numbers: A Message from Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS)

 

Hate has no place in our community. WRPS is committed to holding those who engage in hateful acts accountable for their actions and supporting victims of hate. Nationally and locally, police-reported hate-motivated crime is on the rise (Statistics Canada, 2021). The most recently available data is from 2020. During this period within the Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), there were 54 incidents of police-reported hate-motivated crime, 10 (19%) of which targeted religious groups (Figure 1).

Police Reported Hate motivated crime graph

Incidents and crimes surrounding hate are under-reported, leading to an inaccurate understanding of hate in our community. There is a lot to consider when prosecuting crimes related to hate, and the police are bound legislatively and procedurally in their ability to lay hate-related charges. Below you will see an overview of the process police must adhere to regarding hate-motivated crime and what the police service is doing to improve the identification of crime motivated by hate. If you see or experience hate, report it to us. We want everyone to live in a safe space, and by reporting, we can investigate these matters, bring appropriate charges, and help support victims to create a safer, more inclusive community. Together we can stop the hate.

What is the Difference between a Hate Crime, a Hate-Motivated Crime, and a Hate-Motivated Incident?

Classifying hate graphic

Knowing how to classify hate and crime can be confusing. Identifying the applicable legislation is a complex process because hate, prejudice, and bias based on “race, national or ethnic origin, language, color, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor” are covered by provincial and federal documents such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Criminal Code of Canada, Ontario Human Rights Code, and precedent from previous court cases. These documents are created by provincial and federal governments and only some aspects are enforced by police. When you report hate-related actions, there are three ways to classify the behaviour:

Hate Crime. There are three offenses related to hate in the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC): Advocating Genocide, Public Incitement of Hatred, and Willful Promotion of Hatred. The definitions of these three crimes are very narrow and often only cover a portion of what people consider as a hate crime. The threshold to classify an action as a hate crime is high, and very few investigations meet the standard for this classification. Police officers cannot lay these charges without approval from a designated member of the Crown Attorney’s Office.    

Hate-Motivated Crime. Another section of the Criminal Code of Canada allows for an increased sentence upon conviction if a criminal violation against a person or property is proven to be motivated by hate. Although more frequently applied than the specific Hate Crime offences, this means that two thresholds must be met. First, the behavior must meet the threshold of breaking a law. Second, hate toward an identifiable group must be demonstrated as an underlying motivation. Examples include vandalism of a Mosque (Mischief relating to religious property; CCC s. 430(4.1)) or a Muslim female having her hijab pulled off (Assault; CCC s.265(1)). Here, a judge could increase the sentence if the behavior was proven to be motivated by hate against Muslims. These are complicated criminal investigations that must balance the Criminal Code of Canada against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  

Hate-Motivated Incident. This is an action rooted in hate, bias, and/or prejudice but does not breach any code or charter. As an example, imagine that racial slurs are shouted at someone as they walk down the street. Legally, this shouting behavior is not in violation of the Criminal Code of Canada and a police officer would not be able to lay a charge. But such behavior is offensive, inappropriate, and has no place in our community. There is a lot to consider when prosecuting crimes related to hate, so WRPS has dedicated investigators in a Hate Crimes Unit that is supported by members in the Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) Unit.

Individuals experiencing or witnessing hate (or suspected hate) are encouraged to report occurrences to WRPS. WRPS Officers will follow up with those who reported the incident, provide victim support, perpetrator education, and/or deploy additional resources into the area. Even when WRPS is unable to lay a criminal charge, there is still much that can be done to create a safer, more welcoming community for all individuals. 

How is an Incident Identified as Being Hate-Motivated?

When reporting an incident to the police, an individual (e.g. victim, witness) can indicate whether they suspect the behaviour was based on hate, including hate directed toward intersectional group identities. During the course of the police officer’s investigation they will gather statements and evidence. Information is documented in their report(s), including any suspicions that the incident was motivated by hate. Any incident with any potential hate-motivation is reviewed by Hate Crime investigators and the EDI Unit. The officer’s report(s) is entered into a records management system (RMS) and then processed by the Records and Access to Information Unit. If the incident involves a criminal violation, Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Coders assign the appropriate violation code(s). UCR is the system through which police services across Canada collect and report crime statistics to the federal government. There is a specific UCR flag for hate-motivation that can be included if the crime is suspected to be motivated by hate. The results of the UCR survey offers information on the extent of police-reported crime across Canadian society and its characteristics. The Crime Statistics for 2021 will be released by Statistics Canada during the summer.

What is WRPS Doing to Improve the Identification of Crimes Motivated by Hate?

 Within WRPS there are several recent initiatives to support the reporting of incidents and crimes surrounding hate.  Early in 2022, a new Area Directive reinforced the need for frontline officers to be aware and identify any incident potentially motivated by hate. This was supported by additional training around identifying hate-motivation. New features in our dispatching system will make identifying hate-motivation when reporting easier and mandatory. The new dispatch feature will also facilitate and streamline how information on hate-motivated incidents is shared with the Hate Crimes Unit and the EDI Unit to facilitate supporting victims. In this way, incidents that may not meet the threshold of breaching a code or charter will still come to the attention of police so that victim support can be provided. Together these changes will help WRPS to more accurately capture hate-motivated incidents when they do occur, and provide victim support in a timely manner.

See Something, Say Something

The first step in stopping hate is speaking up; don’t hesitate to report any incident you believe to be motivated by hate to the police. We want everyone to live in a safe space. When hate incidents are reported to the police, WRPS can garner the best evidence to bring appropriate charges, and ensure victims get the support and resources needed to reduce harm and feel safe in our community.

If you see or experience hate, report it to the police.

Emergency: 911

Non-Emergency: 519-570-9777

 

 

 

 Statement From Chief Larkin

On June 17, 2020, Chief Bryan Larkin issued a statement to the Police Service’s Board acknowledging that, like many institutions in our society, our Police Service has work to do to improve outcomes, to strengthen relationships, and to build greater trust with communities across Waterloo Region. 

The full statement is below:

Chair Redman and members of the Board,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide an update on the activities of the WRPS and, in particular, on the initiatives the Service has taken to address racism and discrimination in policing, as well as steps taken to promote and support upstream services as an alternative to enforcement.

First, on behalf of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, I want to acknowledge that racism exists in our Region and in our country and that Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities have suffered, and continue to suffer, from systemic discrimination and bias in our society.

We recognize and acknowledge that policing is perceived and experienced by racialized communities as an institution that embodies this systemic discrimination and bias. We also recognize that these communities believe, based on their felt experiences and histories, that Police Services in our Region, in Canada, and throughout the world, exercise their powers of enforcement in a manner that results in the disproportionate treatment of those who are poor, Black, Indigenous or People of Color.

We respect and support good faith efforts to promote greater accountability and transparency in policing and to achieve better outcomes by police within our criminal justice system.

We are proud of our members that share this respect and on a daily basis have committed to these good faith efforts, as they work tirelessly to ensure our entire community is - and feels - safe However, like many institutions in our society, our Police Service has work to do to improve outcomes, to strengthen relationships, and to build greater trust with communities across Waterloo Region.  This is, and must be, a two-way street.

We are prepared to listen and to learn.  Without honest reflection, we cannot improve.

We are prepared for the challenging and hard conversations based upon both evidence, lived experience, and perception.  Without them, bridges of understanding and trust cannot be built. 

We are prepared to do the work to find better solutions in collaboration with all community partners.  Without doing so, there is simply no path forward.

Promoting Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Policing

Over the last six years, our Service has been on a journey. It has not been an easy journey, but we have made progress, including the launch of the first ever Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Plan, which provides a road map for building a more representative Police Service that looks like - and can better relate to - the community in which it works.

Along with the EDI Plan, the Service is also undertaking an internal review of its Human Resources Strategy. EDI training is also being offered on Implicit Bias and Indigenous Awareness and new training is being developed for Anti-Black racism & systems of systemic discrimination, oppression and marginalization

Promoting Upstream Service Call Management as an alternative to Enforcement

Our Service fundamentally believes that a strong focus on the social determinants of health, education and economics, as well as upstream prevention and integrated systems of collaboration, is the path forward to ensure that those in need are properly served and receive the services they rightly deserve.

Over the years, policing has inherited a myriad of responsibilities, largely based on our service delivery model of 24/7/365 – although, as you have heard me say in the past, we know that alternative service delivery would better serve those in need.

WRPS is actively engaged in a number of initiatives with a strong focus on upstream prevention, versus the Judicial System as the answer, including:

Wellbeing Waterloo Region

We are committed to Wellbeing Waterloo Region, which is an initiative focused on improved societal wellness and upstream prevention by seeking to improve the social determinants of health and wellbeing. 

An officer is assigned to the project full-time.

Impact Project in Partnership with CMHA

In partnership with CMHA, our Service has full-time mental health nurses who provide medical expert support to front-line officers, as well as attend and manage crisis intervention calls for service.

Impact operates seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and is funded by Ontario Health. We will continue to explore expanding this initiative and support additional funding for these programs so they are available 24/7/365.

Situation Tables

WRPS supports two Situation Tables operated by external health and social partners and is supported by three dedicated resources (CRO Officers). All partners have the ability to refer citizens requiring acute care intervention, with the goal of providing holistic solutions that remove them from the Judicial System alternative.

Mental Health and Drug Treatment Court

WRPS was instrumental in the development of the Mental Health and Drug Treatment Court through referral of matters that have traditionally been managed by the Judicial System.  These courts provide specialized support for those battling mental health and/or addictions versus incarceration.

Other Initiatives
  • Development of a Race Based Data Collection Board Policy and WRPS Procedure
  • Body Worn Video (Cameras)
  • Inspector Training and Education and Professional Development
  • Community Services (Community Resource Officers and SRO Program reviews)

In Closing

In closing, as a person of white privilege, and as your Chief of Police – I have been reflecting on the many voices and the concerns raised by our Black, Indigenous and People of Colour communities.

I do believe we have an opportunity to engage our community, work with all levels of government, and collectively work towards fundamental change as we modernize and transform policing for the 21st century.

Chair Redman – you have the commitment of myself, Deputy Crowell, Deputy Hilton and our Leadership Team, to action change and set the path forward.

Thank you.

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