In May 2010, the Toronto Police Service, the Toronto Police Services Board and the Ontario Human Rights Commission celebrated a major milestone in their joint project to bring about institutional change to eliminate racism and discrimination – the completion of the three-year Human Rights Project Charter initiative.
The Project Charter, launched in 2007, arose out of a need to address human rights concerns about police that were being brought before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The project involved a working group of staff from each of the three organizations. Their task was to look at human rights issues in employment policies and in how the TPS delivered police services. The working group looked at four main areas:
- Recruiting, selecting, promoting and retaining staff
- Police learning
- Public education.
An example of the kind of work we did took place in February and March 2011. We worked with the TPS Diversity Management Unit to design and deliver six training sessions on investigating human rights complaints for TPS staff who have to investigate and resolve both internal and external complaints. We also invited other police services to take part.
The partners agree that, through research, analysis, dialogue and the exchange of new ideas, real progress has been achieved in all these areas.
Even though the three-year Project Charter is now completed, the work will continue. Included in the next steps is an independent review of the progress made during the project.
Positive change came from this unique partnership project. While there is still work to do, this serves as an example of how partnerships can help create a culture of human rights within organizations.