By Lethbridge Herald on February 16, 2017.
Lethbridge Police Service has updated its policy regarding how its members deal with the LGBTQ community, in response to a complaint about a Facebook post made last year by a now former LPS member.
While LPS had policy in place with respect to searching and housing transgender prisoners, an additional policy — Interactions with Transgender Persons — has now been created.
The new policy includes information with respect to gender identity terminology, the proper use of pronouns and mandatory awareness training to ensure all LPS policy and procedure remains updated with regards to current cultural conditions.
“Rather than assuming or defaulting to what’s on a driver’s licence,” said Chief Rob Davis. “Having a conversation as to how the person would like to be addressed. I know that sounds really common sense, but it’s been my experience in policing that we get very rigid sometimes, and we lose sight of little things that a simple conversation can alleviate.”
Last April, the Trans Equality Society of Alberta filed a complaint over a public Facebook post by then-LPS officer Staff Sgt. Scott Chadsey using the Facebook alias “Chad Scott.”
The post was in regards to a local transgender woman who had been selected to represent 100 years of women’s suffrage at the Alberta legislature.
It featured disparaging remarks toward transgender people and the local woman in particular by a number of different people.
The complaint triggered an investigation into the officer’s conduct, but Chadsey retired partway through that investigation and LPS was unable to pursue the matter further in regards to professional standards.
Davis said the department remained committed to updating its policies around the issue, however.
“Society is always changing,” he said. “What we deal with is always changing. So it was a good opportunity to revisit our policies. It was clear we had an area to beef up there.”
Davis said LPS looked specifically at how Vancouver Police Department has crafted its policies and praised the work being done in that city.
In particular, Davis said the VPD’s nationally acclaimed transgender training video “Walk With Me” will be viewed by all members at all levels.
Davis said the department reached out to the LGBTQ community through its diversity liaison officer, Const. Les Vonkeman. They also spoke with the woman who was targeted by Chadsey’s Facebook post, and will continue to work towards providing the same level of service for all members of society.
“We don’t see colour, we don’t see religion, we don’t see race,” he said. “We’re here to keep everybody safe. It’s important we understand, and have appreciation for everybody that makes up our city.”
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