Saskatoon Police Service has released its annual representative workforce service report to the Board of Police Commissioners, detailing the hiring of Indigenous people, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and women in under-represented positions.
The report says from 2002 to 2021, SPS has seen:
- An increase of 180 per cent of female employees, from 80 to 224
- A 120 per cent increase in Indigenous employees from 30 to 66
- A 233 per cent increase in persons with disabilities from 12 to 40
- And a 371 per cent increase in visible minorities from seven to 33
“We consider ourselves community-based and so just by that very nature want to reflect the community that we’re policing,” said SPS Chief Troy Cooper.
“It certainly is tied to confidence, trust, if people see themselves reflected in the in the service are more likely to cooperate with the police and communicate freely with the police.”
CFS Saskatoon, a family service organization that seeks to build strong communities with people of all races and ethnicities, says it’s important for organizations to reflect the diversity of the community.
“Each person who represents a different community kind of represents their own community, they bring ideas, they enhance the understanding with each other,” said communications and fund development officer Nidhi Singh.
According to the report, 63 per cent of new constables and special constables were hired from employment equity groups in 2021.
Where SPS fell short was in the goals for a representative workforce set out by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.
The SHRC goal for the percentage of Indigenous employees was 14 per cent, 16.8 per cent for “visible minorities”, 22.2 per cent for persons with disabilities, and 47 per cent for women in under-represented occupations.
SPS’ actual numbers were 10 per cent for Indigenous, 6.1 per cent for “visible minorities”, 5.8 per cent for persons with disabilities, and 43.3 per cent for women in under-represented occupations.
Cooper says the SHRC goals are based on percentages of populations in Saskatchewan.
“We know that it’s different in individual communities and certainly different in Saskatoon than it might be broadly in the province,” he said.
“That’s what we measure against that we measure success against, but it’s based on a provincial number.”
Cooper says there can be challenges in attracting people depending on the target group, as well as small pools of applicants in some areas.
“There are also groups that don’t generally see themselves in … the police community and so we have to introduce ourselves to them,” he said.
Cooper says diverse perspectives allow police to be more successful.
“The social issues we deal with are complex, and if we all look the same and have the same history and the same education, same background, we’re going to come up with the same solution every time.”
“I would applaud Saskatoon Police Service for being upfront about the challenges and sharing about the challenges,” said Singh. “There’s a big road ahead.”
Singh added it’s also the responsibility of minorities and people coming from diverse communities to create opportunities for themselves, finding a way to have a “voice on the table.”
“That is important, and it might require you to have that courage, to reach out to connect with people and move off the sticky floors and break some glass ceilings,” she said.