THUNDER BAY – Recently, members of the Thunder Bay Police have become the target of negative public comments, such as the graffiti found in two locations around the City suggesting that “police stop throwing people in the river”. In addition, there are defamatory allegations circulating that two Thunder Bay Police officers recently attempted to drown an Indigenous girl. These are just two examples of the uninformed, falsified rumours that currently exist about our local police.
It is no secret that our City is experiencing a challenging time. The Thunder Bay Police Association (TBPA), which represents all uniform police officers and civilian police service employees below the rank of Inspector, supports all of our police service members who are dedicated to protecting the entire Thunder Bay community. Given that the Police Services Board and the Police Service have chosen to stay silent about the public trust issues our local police continue to experience, the Association feels it is necessary – on behalf of our members – to speak out and encourage awareness about the positive work being done to uphold public safety while dispelling the rumours being circulated by select groups and the media.
For Instance, Project Floodway, which was implemented two years ago, includes the Implementation of police patrols in key areas and collaboration with social services partners so that authorities can help vulnerable people avoid injury near waterways. The project was developed in response to Recommendation 115 of the Seven Student Inquest. Though it has only been in place for three years, the project’s annual reports from 2017 and 2018 show a significant drop in Incidents between the two years – 451were recorded In 2017 and 305 were reported In 2018, a decrease of 32%. As noted in the 2018 annual report,47 of the 305 Incidents were classified as “possible life-savi ng interventions” and eight were documented water rescues deemed “definitely life-saving.”
As the numbers show, Thunder Bay Police personnel have jumped into local waterways – an action that put them at risk – on numerous occasions to save individuals who appeared to be in distress, suicidal or intoxicated. Though the number of incidents has gone down markedly year over year, the underlying issues that result in these incidents continue to exist.
Instead of drawing public attention to the positive impacts the police are making on the Thunder Bay community, the media seems to be focused on reporting the negative police interactions that sometimes occur in the City – as they do in every city. However, this unbalanced perspective has the potential to further erode the public’s trust in our members’ ability to protect the community and further encourage public comments like the graffiti message, which results in creating a more challenging landscape for police to maintain public safety.
Why are Thunder Bay’s Police personnel seemingly the sole target of this attention? What has the municipal government or other organizations done to improve the social and economic issues that are plaguing this City? The TBPA will continue to push for assistance from all levels of government to ensure our members have the proper tools and resources needed to keep Thunder Bay and all of its citizens safe.
We ask the community to please remember that the men and women of our Police Service are also members of the Thunder Bay community, with families that are impacted by their chosen career to serve and protect. The TBPA is hopeful that the majority of the public is supportive of the efforts being made by their local police officers and civilian police service employees – they are committed to ensuring that Thunder Bay continues to be a safe place to live, work and visit.
About the Thunder Bay Police Association
The Thunder Bay Police Association is the official representative body and bargaining agent for Thunder Bay’s 325 sworn and civilian police personnel with the Thunder Bay Police Service below the rank of Inspector. The TBPA is committed to providing our members with leadership to protect and advance their collective rights and interests.