Author: Stephen Weir | Date: 23 February 2021
On Wednesday, February 24, four Black York Regional Police Officers, and their lawyer will be appearing before the York Regional Police Services Board (YRPSB) to make a vitally important deputation on matters of systemic racism and discrimination within the Force. The media is invited to attend and cover this important live online deputation that is being held during Black History Month.
“The nature of Wednesday’s deputation will provide a glimpse of the horror stories these officers have lived throughout their policing careers,” explains the officers’ Counsel for Justice and Equity – Courtney Betty. “It will also present a unique opportunity for the York Regional Police Services Board to demonstrate its core value of accountability to its officers and to its community, as these four officers bravely step forward and model its core value of Courage. The intention is to create a moment of true understanding as we acknowledge the systemic barriers which make being Black an impediment to policing. “
“As a result of ongoing internal anti-Black racism conflicts, I have had with my employer for almost 10 years, I along with three other Black officers who have had the same complaints regarding YRP's differential treatment of its Black employees will be appearing before the York Regional Police Service Board to voice our concerns,” says Police Constable Dameian Muirhead,
“We will also be sharing intimate details about how this treatment has impacted our mental, physical and emotional health,” he continues. “Our close relatives have also been negatively impacted by these experiences.”
The officers who will speak on Wednesday morning are:
· 19-year veteran Detective Constable Neil Dixon. He is currently on leave as a result of suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to a near-death experience after a racial profiling incident involving two White YRP officers and a Sergeant.
· Special Constable Vernley France has been with the force for 19-years. In 2015, I he came forward to address the issues of racial discrimination and anti-Black racism in the workplace. As a result of his coming forward, York Regional Police retaliated in the form of a series of ongoing reprisals against the Caribbean Canadian constable.
· Police Constable Dameian Muirhead is an 18-year veteran of the Force. The Jamaican Canadian officer continues to endure various internal and external adversities while maintaining exemplary work performance as documented in all my formal work evaluations.
· The Fourth Officer, is identified as Police Constable SF
Normally held at the York Region Administrative Centre’s chambers in Newmarket Wednesday’s deputation will be live online on Zoom and YouTube.
The YRPSB is a seven-member civilian governing body mandated to oversee the police service. Expected to attend the hearing are members: Virginia Hackson (Chair, Mayor of East Gwillimbury), Maurizo Bevilacqua (Vice Chair, Mayor of Vaughan), Wayne Emmerson, Josh Cooper, Jennifer Fang, Walter Perchal and Norma McCullough. Mrs. McCullough is the only Black member of the Board; she is currently a member of the Association of Black Law Enforcers.
There are 2,400 men and women working for the York Regional Police under the command of Chief Jim MacSween, Deputy Chiefs’ Brian Bigras, Paulo Da Silva, Cecile Hammond and Robertson Rouse. Deputy Chief Rouse, a Trinidadian Canadian, is the only Black officer in the Force’s Upper Command
There are 1.2 million citizens living in York Region, 25,000 who self-identify as Black.