Mayor Bonnie Crombie addresses calls to defund Peel Regional Police
In light of the protests that have been occurring in countries all across the globe in relation to police brutality towards the Black community, many have been calling for governments to defund police organizations.
In a statement issued today via social media, Mayor Bonnie Crombie addressed calls for such action from Mississauga residents.
"Let me first say that I understand the anxiety, fear, and frustration that so many are feeling across North America. I watched the video of George Floyd's death along with millions of others," Crombie said in the statement. "It is as heartbreaking as it is angering. The casual and callous disregard for human life shown by the officers involved is despicable. They should face the full weight of the justice system."
Crombie pointed out that Peel Regional Police (PRP) Chief, Nish Duraiappah, has acknowledged the existence of systemic racism in Canada and has committed to addressing it, as well as unconscious bias, with his officers, as well as providing proper training and guidance to ensure encounters between civilians and police can progress peacefully and without violence.
Crombie also addressed the fact that the PRP budget for 2020 was increased by 5.4 per cent compared to the previous year.
According to Crombie, the increase was related to bringing the number of officers per 100,000 in-line with the provincial average, as well as funding anti-gang initiatives.
"Peel continues to be a hotbed for both illegal guns and organized crime, and related to that, human trafficking. I'm sure you would agree that tackling these issues must remain a priority," she said.
Further, Crombie commended the work Duraiappah has done to reform PRP, including reviewing human resources and internal practices; working with the Ontario Human Rights Commission; and, most importantly, changing the way police interact with the community.
Moreover, Crombie has vowed that the 2021 PRP budget will be heavily scrutinized.
"The Police Services Board will be looking at the 2021 police budget through a different lens. In a time of significant economic uncertainty and loss, they will be looking at ways to be prudent with the police budget, while maintaining public safety," she said.
However, Crombie doesn't believe defunding police will produce the results those who advocate for it, expect.
"While I agree with you wholeheartedly that we need to reform our institutions to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination, especially in our police force, simply defunding the police is not the answer. It's an arbitrary action that will not produce the intended results," she said. "Defunding police will not resolve the many symptoms of risk within our community, which face a variety of complex risks like mental health, addictions, and other social issues which result in crisis and precede police response."
Crombie has endorsed alternative means of addressing some of these situations and crises.
"Our intent is to, as you have suggested, move away from police ownership of many of these issues through the collective impact of human service collaboration. We do need to ensure that more is invested in social development and prevention to support our most vulnerable and create better outcomes for our community," she said.
Crombie also pointed out that police pensions and discipline are governed by the Province, as is the Special Investigation Unit, which is a civilian oversight agency that investigates potentially unlawful encounters between police and civilians.
"The current system must change, and I know both the Chief and the Board are committed to making changes. To do so effectively will require listening to and working with the community, especially the Black community. This is where we will start," Crombie concluded.
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