Thunder Bay Police Services Board Update: Embracing New Policies and Enhanced Communication

Thunder Bay Police Service

Thunder Bay, ON – The Thunder Bay Police Services Board (TBPSB) held their monthly meeting on April 23, 2024, focusing on new policing policies, a revamped communication strategy, and a detailed budget review, setting the stage for transformative changes in local law enforcement.

Comprehensive Policy Overhaul Under New Legislation

The meeting opened with Constable C. Woods detailing the significant impact of the newly enforced Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019. This legislation mandates the creation of nine new procedures aimed at enhancing police transparency and accountability.

The TBPSB also plans to introduce 11 new policies, including whistleblower protections and the integration of positive language, reflecting a progressive approach to community policing.

Strengthening Community Ties Through Communication

Ms. T. Smith, Director of Corporate Communications, unveiled the Police Service’s new Communication Strategy, which emphasizes continuous engagement with the community. Chief Fleury and the Board are set to establish a communications committee, underscoring their commitment to transparency and building public trust.

The goal here is to enhance what Smith stated are positive messages about the Thunder Bay Police Service. Police Chief Darcy Chief Fleury highlighted the need for transparency and expressed the Board’s intention to work closely with the Police Service to establish a communications committee.

This strategy is based on what has become common practice in policing as well as a past review of community and internal TBPS surveys.

The communications budget for the Thunder Bay Police Service has seen some major increases in costs over the years, and the same holds true for the Thunder Bay Police Services Board. The new communications committee will see Mayor Boshcoff, Counsellor Etreni and Smith as members.

DEI Initiatives and AI Integration

The Governance Committee, chaired by Ms. Denise Baxter, has targeted eight communities for public consultations on the Board’s draft Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policy.

Meanwhile, the Board has taken a pioneering step in Ontario by adopting a policy on the Use of Artificial Intelligence Technologies, which was developed with input from Dr. Daavut Acka of Lakehead University. This policy governs the use of existing AI technologies like BriefCam and sets guidelines for future tech.

Financial Stewardship and Operational Updates

The first quarter of 2024 saw a stable financial performance with no net variance reported by Ms. D. Paris, Director of Financial Services & Facilities. The Police Service also secured two significant government grants that were not initially included in the budget.

Enhancements in Governance and Staffing

In response to the increasing workload, the Board approved the hiring of four contractors to assist the Governance and Communications Committees. Additionally, new committee structures, including a Finance & Budget Committee and a Communications Committee, have been established to streamline operations.

Transparency and Compliance

Mr. J. Hannam, Board Secretary, announced plans to enhance the internal dashboard for Board members, facilitating better compliance with oversight reports. This move is part of a broader effort to ensure ongoing transparency in Board operations.

Local Implications and Engagement

These updates from the TBPSB are set to profoundly impact policing in Thunder Bay, with a focus on transparency, community engagement, and technological integration. As these policies are implemented, the community is encouraged to participate in public consultations and provide feedback to shape a more inclusive and effective police service.

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