The Edmonton Police Service has outlined various projects to improve bias awareness and promote equity and inclusion in its approach to policing.
Building on stakeholder engagement initiatives in 2020, including the Commitment to Action, Roadmap: Systemic Review of Issues Facing Indigenous People, and the LGBTQ2S+ Apology Action Plan, the EPS is working on a number of projects to improve bias awareness across the service.
“The focus of the Equity, Inclusion, and Human Rights branch is to continue to build an equitable and respectful police service, and promote accountability and fairness in our approach to policing,” says Insp. Mitchell Flaman, of the EPS Equity, Inclusion and Human Rights Branch. “Our review and continuous improvement of EPS training began well before the events of this past year, and we will keep working to address barriers to equity and uphold principles of inclusion.”
Projects currently underway include:
Unconscious Bias E-learning Module
A mandatory electronic learning module, “Managing Unconscious Bias” is currently being rolled out across the service. Reviewed by representatives of marginalized and underserved communities, this introductory module was developed to assist police in better understanding and interrupting the cycle of bias and its implications in law enforcement. The module is currently being taken by all patrol officers and is expected to be rolled out to the rest of the organization, including sworn and civilian members, in the coming month.
This module is one of the first steps in the creation of an anti-discrimination series intended to promote an understanding of equity and inclusion within the EPS. In-person training is planned once it is safe to do so, as well as an Equitable and Inclusive Leadership Training series for supervisors.
LGBTQ2S+ Acceptance Training
The EPS has an internal LGBTQ2S+ Employee Resource Group consisting of queer-identified EPS staff and allies who advocate for a safe and inclusive working environment. This group has been heavily involved in the creation and delivery of the LGBTQ2S+ training curriculum for Police Communications Branch (dispatch), Recruit Training Unit, and the newly developed Human-centred Engagement and Liaison Partnership (HELP) Unit. The learning objectives of this training prepare participants to understand the history and trauma of law enforcement and the LGBTQ2S+ community within the Edmonton context, and provide strategies to respectfully communicate and build rapport when working with queer-identifying individuals to promote safety and wellbeing.
An Education and Awareness Knowledge Repository is being built for the internal EPS intranet. This will provide resources, such as toolkits, guides, job aids, eLearning modules, videos and articles on topics including discrimination, equity and inclusion, Indigenous issues, LGBTQ2S+ inclusion, and more.
The EPS continues to expand upon the Police and Community Engagement (PACE) Team program, which supports EPS divisions to build relationships with Edmonton’s culturally diverse communities.
Inclusive Language Guide
An Inclusive Language Guide is being developed and is expected to be distributed service-wide in early 2021. This will support EPS membership in knowing, understanding, and using appropriate language and terminology with respect to our marginalized and underserved communities. It will suggest common language and communication choices that are both accurate and respectful to enable the membership to accurately communicate and respond to the needs of Edmonton’s diverse communities.
Community Policing Modules
Community policing modules that are currently being offered to Recruit Training Unit will be expanded to the rest of the service. The curriculum includes education on trauma-informed policing and the victim-offender overlap through discussing case studies of Indigenous, LGBTQ2S+, and Newcomer trauma, adverse childhood experiences, and cultural safety.
The recruit training curriculum is reviewed and updated yearly. In addition to the Community Policing Modules listed above, the curriculum currently includes:
- Bias awareness training, understanding adverse childhood experiences, victim-offender overlap, historical trauma and cultural safety, trauma-informed policing, police legitimacy and procedural justice.
- De-escalation training: the mental health module has been increased to a full week and concludes with a full day of scenarios with actors portraying different stages of persons in crisis.
- Community Safety and Well-being Bureau training about alternatives to apprehension, as well as the EPS Human-centred Engagement and Liaison Partnership (HELP) and Heavy Users of Service (HUoS) programs to assist in off-ramping vulnerable people from involvement with police and the justice system.
- Basic Emergency Crowd Control training for demonstrations, which has evolved over the last 10 years with new tactics and techniques for de-escalation.
A needs assessment has been initiated to determine what gaps still remain on addressing issues of systemic discrimination and bias, not only as it impacts communities, but also members within the police service.