During the past number of weeks, police associations and unions have become a frequent target by media and activists. While we are confident that the overwhelming majority of our members conduct themselves with professionalism, empathy and compassion on a daily basis. While activists are frustrated regarding oversight, it is noted that Associations are equally as frustrated with delays in oversight investigations.
As a police association, it is important the public understands who we are and what we do for our members. Our mandate is to advocate on behalf of our members regarding salaries, benefits, health and safety concerns and support with grievances regarding violations of our collective agreements and our goal is to ensure fair representation for all of our uniform and civilian members.
In light of the negative press, it is very important to continue to highlight the good work being done by our police professionals, whenever possible. We need to shift focus to the positive side, keeping our profession in the best possible light, in spite of the relentless demands for police defunding.
With continued calls for defunding comes the realization that police budgets are growing because the demand for police services keeps growing. Keeping communities safe requires adequate resources and this comes at a price.
Personal attacks directed at police personnel combined with quarantine measures and the inability to engage in our usual activities to help us unwind, can pose mental health challenges for our members. The mental health and well-being of our members is paramount. The launch of Encompas this past March has provided a much needed resource and support structure to assist our members and their families to deal with the unique mental health challenges faced by first responders. Keeping the lines of communication open and providing valuable tools and resource material to maintain mental health balance is crucial. We encourage all members to utilize this service to assist with their own personal well-being.
Calls for service relating to mental health have been on the rise over the past couple of years. While there is a lot of negative press pointing out what police do wrong, we acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of mental health service calls and wellness checks, are handled without the need for escalation. Therapists and mental health professionals often take months before a proper diagnosis of a patient is determined. When first on scene, a police professional has very little time to assess the status of a mental health situation. For this reason, police professionals are committed to working in tandem with professional partners to provide the best possible care when dealing with mental health service calls, utilizing the best possible evidence-bases solutions.
Many police associations are open to the idea of police officers using body worn cameras. While body worn cameras will instill public confidence and police accountability, they will also reduce false complaints against the police. Outfitting all officers with body worn cameras will come at a significant cost, directly affecting police budgets. The decision to adopt body worn cameras needs to be evidence based.
Across the globe, policing is under the microscope more than ever before. With so much attention being paid to the negative side of policing, we are incumbent to do are part to portray the policing profession in the best possible light.
We are all Canadians, with love and respect, we will all move forward together.
President Rob Jamieson & the Board of Directors
Ontario Provincial Police Association