Why London bylaw officers will receive additional bias training
LONDON, ONT. -- A push to have municipal bylaw officers receive enhanced bias and anti-racism training offered has been successful.
The decision comes one day after questions were raised by the London Police Services Board (LPSB) about the potential for bias during the enforcement of Ontario’s stay-at-home order.
On Thursday, LPSB Vice-Chair Susan Toth asked about anti-racism and bias training for officers enforcing the order.
“It is really something that anybody, in any sort of enforcement position, or any community engagement position should be receiving,” stated Toth.
Police Chief Steve Williams explained that his officers receive comprehensive bias and anti-racism training, but the bulk of pandemic restriction enforcement is performed by City Hall’s bylaw officers.
An offer to share police training with City Hall’s Chief of Municipal Law Enforcement Orest Katolyk, however, had not been accepted.
“I have spoken with Orest Katolyk, in the spring of last year, and offered if his staff wanted to jump on any of our existing training,” explained Chief Williams. “So the offer is out there, but that has not happened at this point.”
LPSB member and city councillor Maureen Cassidy wanted to know why.
“I plan to bring it up to the city manager to ask what training they do have, and ta talk about the offer that has been made multiple times,” added Cassidy.
On Friday, CTV News asked Katolyk about anti-bias training for his officers.
“It’s always good to continue education and training,” agreed Katolyk. “All of our officers receive training from the Ontario Municipal Law Enforcement Officers Association, but at the same time we are always seeking continuous training to improve compliance investigations.”
Municipal bylaw officers do not collect race-based data regarding enforcement, so determining if there is bias would be difficult to assess.
Katolyk has agreed, however, to accept the police chief’s offer of additional training.
“We’ve already made those connections with London Police Service today,” he added.
Since the provincial stay at home order began, London bylaw officers have provided education and warnings, but no charges have been laid.