Create Safe Neighbourhoods
- Our police are failing the Indigenous community and allowing racism to go unchecked
- Police leadership has lost the trust of rank and file officers
- Thunder Bay has one of the highest homicide rates in the country
- Property crime and theft plague every neighbourhood
- Toronto street gangs are taking over our homes and streets
Thunder Bay has the second-highest violent crime rate in Canada. Thunder Bay’s homicide rate is once again the highest in the country and now frequently involves guns. Toronto gangs are taking over our homes and are flooding our streets with drugs. Overdoses and drug related deaths are at an all time high. Gang violence, drug related crime and addiction are ruining our community, deeply impacting the ability of local businesses to succeed and making it unsafe to walk our streets at night.
Officers are not being supported to address rising crime and lawlessness due to ineffective leadership. Police and political leaders have failed again and again to take measures to gain the trust of both the Indigenous community and our front line officers. Leadership has left Indigenous people feeling unsafe, insecure and left behind. Thunder Bay needs a mayor who will tackle these issues head on, make them a priority and ultimately make our neighbourhoods safe.
Build an Anti-Racist Police Service:
The Thunder Bay Police Service has lost the confidence of Indigenous people. The OIPRD Report has described a “crisis of trust” afflicting the relationship between Indigenous people and TBPS. Repeated failures to properly investigate Indigenous deaths, the mistreatment of Indigenous people and the history of colonialism and abuse have led to calls by Indigneous groups for the dissolution of the Thunder Bay police.
The advantage of having a local police department is the capacity to enforce change and have local control to meet the unique needs of our community. I do not believe in giving up on our local police and handing policing over to those outside our community.
As mayor, I will lead the community in building an anti-racist police service. Our police should not only be upholding the highest standards of reconciliation and partnership with Indigenous people but should be active in transforming our city into a beacon of Indigenous revival and opportunity. Indigenous people are a critical part of Thunder Bay’s future and we can not achieve prosperity and safety without Indigenous citizens.
We need strong Indigenous representation at all levels of the police force, from the Thunder Bay Police Services Board, senior leadership, right down to front line first responders. We must enshrine anti-racist practices and policies at all levels of the organization. We must implement all of the recommendations from the various investigations into the Thunder Bay Police Services including the OIPRD’s Report – Broken Trust – Thunder Bay and the Thunder Bay Police Service.
A New Police Leadership:
When multiple past and present members of police leadership have come under investigation and the Thunder Bay Police Association openly states its union members lack trust in its leaders, it is even more imperative that policing in our community needs to change.
We can not continue under the ‘business as usual’ mandate and repeat our past mistakes. We need new leadership. We need leadership that is in tune with the needs of our community. We need leaders who have worked on the front-line, have first-hand experience and have navigated the line between the police and the community. We need a mayor who has the courage to do things differently, and do them together.
Gary Mack has worked on the front lines as a social worker and Executive Director of Shelter House for years. He has seen and knows first hand the struggles of addiction, mental health and those most affected by crime. Gary has seen the challenges front line officers face in their work and the types of action that will keep our neighbourhoods safe. As mayor, Gary Mack will lead the Police Services Board in selecting new police leadership and be a strong voice for change while keeping police accountable.
Additional First Response Tiers:
We have one of the most expensive models for first responders one could imagine. About 1 in every 3 dollars the city spends goes to first responders and emergency services. The current city budget continues a trend of unsustainable spending with no end in sight. The vast majority of police calls (between 80%-94%) are for non-criminal or non-violent matters. Traffic stops, mental health issues and alcohol/drug issues represent the bulk of police activities yet can be best handled by other types of trained professionals. Research done at the local, national and international levels has proven that we can have safer neighbourhoods by investing in the right people to show up at the right time. We need to make smart, cost effective choices about how we solve problems in our community.
We need a new tier of first responders that are trained in crisis response, mental health, addictions and conflict de-escalation. These first responders can handle the vast majority of the calls our police service receives. To respond to violent and aggressive situations, we will have our toughest, most qualified police to deal with those calls that require extra support.
By bringing in the people and skills most appropriate to the situation we can get better outcomes while also staying within budget. Appropriately trained and appropriately paid first responders and a new model for crisis intervention are key to overcoming the challenges we face as a community. Safe neighbourhoods are the cornerstone of our future – in terms of where we live, work and play. Having the right training for the right people at the right time is critical to making all our neighbourhoods strong.
Specialized Units to Tackle Gangs and Criminal Outsiders:
With the savings we will reap from a new model of policing and first response, we can invest in the high-level police work necessary to defeat organized crime and take back our neighbourhoods from Toronto gangs.
This hard work will be done by dedicated officers who are empowered to eliminate gun crime and gang activity from our streets. With our new approach to first responders we can win the trust of the communities most in need, earn the trust of Indigenous people and build the partnerships that will help bring down these ultra-violent outsiders and make our neighborhoods safe.
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