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New committee aims to engage RCMP with Black residents

In an effort to better address the issues and concerns of the Black Community in this province, the RCMP Newfoundland and Labrador has formed an RCMP Black Engagement Steering Committee. 

The announcement was made this morning at RCMP headquarters building in St. John’s by RCMP NL Assistant Commissioner, Commanding Officer Ches Parsons, chairman of the committee and committee founder Dr. Lloydetta Quaicoe.

Parsons said discussions with members of the Black community began a few months ago.

“Our goal was to find a better way forward in terms of engagement with the Black community here in this province and, in many respects, a better way to serve the public of Newfoundland and Labrador...,“ Parsons said. “The meeting proved very fruitful ...

“(The committee) is a very significant step forward.”

"Our goal was to find a better way forward in terms of engagement with the Black community here in this province."

He said forming the committee will help ensure that police services are both inclusive and reflective of the residence officers serve and protect. He said the Black community is growing in the province, yet the number of Black police officers serving here is not.

“Their contributions to the betterment of our society exceed by orders of magnitude their numbers among our population,” Parsons said. 

“So, it’s an important initiative that were undertaking.“

Parsons said they are mostly delving into issues of recruitment of members of the Black community in the RCMP as officers and civilian member ranks. He said they are looking at, “how we can do everything possible to eliminate, not simply reduce, but eliminate the systemic barriers which exist in terms of recruitment of members of the Black community.”

Parsons said there is one member of the Black community in the RCMP - a member in Labrador - “but we hope to have many more.”

Quaicoe said members of the Black community are delighted with the formation of the committee.

She says in just a couple of months, they’ve had many “open and honest“ conversations about recruitment, training, education and community engagement - some of the areas we are systemic barriers exist. 

She said the committee will open doors “literally and figuratively” for the province’s Black community. 

“We feel a sense of assurance that we’re on the right path."

For example, she said, Parsons has arranged to have conversations about employment and recruitment with the director of RCMP’s national recruiting program, as well as the executive director of human resources, policies strategies and programs. 

“It has meant a lot to our Black community to feel valued, to feel that sense of welcome, recognition and acceptance by the RCMP,” Quaicoe said. “We appreciate that the doors in this building are open at any time. This is where our committee meetings are held.”

Members on the committee are originally from eight countries and hold positions of leadership and influence in the province, she noted.

“We’re proactively encouraging productive communication and intercultural understanding between the RCMP and the Black community,“ she said, “We feel a sense of assurance that we’re on the right path to building valuable, positive relationships and finding solutions to systemic barriers that exist for a community.

“We’re hopeful. In fact, I’d say that we are confident in what this RCMP Black engagement steering committee of Newfoundland and Labrador will accomplish in the days ahead.”

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