Updated: Update by Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau on Capital Pride
Update by Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau on Capital Pride
(Ottawa)–Several weeks ago, I indicated that the Ottawa Police Service would not be registering police vehicles in this year’s pride parade. At that time, I also indicated my intention to wear my uniform – to support and celebrate Ottawa Police LGBTQ2 members and allies – many who have faced challenges in their policing careers.
For many members of our Service the request to exclude our uniforms felt like a rejection of that part of our identity and our own journey towards inclusion.
Since that time, we have had further discussion with LGBTQ2 police members, from a number of community partners and Liaison Committee members.
The LGBTQ2 members that I met with expressed hurt and frustration about the request to exclude uniforms for off duty officers at Pride this year. The majority also felt that attending Pride in uniform would not help us build trust. After reviewing the options, they decided not to wear their uniforms during this year’s Pride Parade and will wear other OPS identified clothing. I fully support this decision and am proud of them for carefully considering how best to proceed in order to move forward together.
The exclusion of the police uniform in Pride parades has become a national issue, and it seems to have divided the local LGBTQ2 communities and the wider community. I know we can overcome this issue by working together to have real conversations with each other at the local level.
We are proud of our uniform and what it represents. But we have experience building bridges out of uniform in other activities – whether it’s with new immigrants, refugees, and some youth activities like the Flotilla for Friendship.
We need to continue building on the many years of great work with the LGBTQ2 communities that community partners have helped us to achieve. In particular, we need to listen to the concerns of fear and mistrust and have conversations with trans, indigenous and racialized youth and young adults, and the organizations who provide their services. This important work needs to be built into the Liaison Committee’s work plan and the OPS Multi-Year Action Plan for Bias-Neutral Policing.
It is for all of these reasons that I plan to join my officers and civilian staff in a police golf shirt for this year’s Pride Parade.
We hope this shows our commitment to continue listening and building trust with the diverse communities we serve.