Council heads toward meeting with Calgary police to address systemic racism after public hearings

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“One-third of Calgarians have a much different relationship with our police service than I do, as a white guy,” Carra said. “And that became extremely clear. That is not acceptable.”

City council doesn’t directly oversee CPS, but is responsible for setting the force’s overall budget, since policing is a city service.

“We ultimately hold the purse strings, so we want (CPS) to be very clear in their commitment to anti-racism and their programmatic approach to anti-racism,” Carra said.

Coun. Jyoti Gondek, one of the councillors who sits on police commission, said council has the right and responsibility to ask police how they plan to respond to citizens’ concerns.

On the final day of July’s systemic racism hearing, a joint statement from CPS, police commission and the two unions representing officers acknowledged systemic racism “in all our institutions.”

Gondek said that was an important first step, and it’s time to ensure the right supports are in place to create change.

“We heard during the hearings that you can’t fix the system without engaging the people the system is biased against,” she said.

“It is ridiculous for us to think that we can solve the problem ourselves when we are part of the problem. It’s going to require some external expertise of people coming in . . . what I’m interested in is engaging some external experts who have helped other organizations do this well.”

Twitter: @meksmith

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