After two years of collaboration with Kingston Police, the Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC) published the Kingston Speaks Inclusion (KSI) Report on April 28.
The purpose of the partnership was to aid Kingston Police in gathering input from community members in order to foster a more inclusive dialogue with the community; inform the creation of a Kingston Police Community Inclusion Council; and kickstart various other initiatives related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. The overall objective of the project was to discover and implement strategies to strengthen the relationship between Kingston Police and the greater Kingston community.
Wendy Vyuk, director of Community Health at KCHC, spoke to the importance of this project and the changes it aims to bring about, emphasizing the experiences shared with researchers by Kingston community members.
“There’s lots of data in the report that is quite powerful and well presented, but I think for me it was really the anecdotal information and the story,” said Vyuk, “I honestly can say that there were times that our researchers were in tears hearing the stories of some of our community members, and sadly the amount of fear that some of our community members feel toward the police.”
Some of the recommendations that arose from this project include the creation of an accountability committee that is not operationalized by the police and the implementation of new training surrounding de-escalation. Another suggestion in the report was the idea of a reverse ride-along, providing members of the police department an experiential learning opportunity to be able to empathize at a greater level with community members.
Despite the final report being completed and presented to Kingston Police in July 2022, as of late April, the Kingston Police had not yet agreed to a collaborative release of the report or to move forward with the proposed recommendations. On April 24, KCHC sent a formal letter to the acting chief expressing disappointment in the lack of progress and their intention to publish the report.
Vyuk discussed their decision to release the report on April 28 despite not having decided upon a joint release date with the Kingston Police.
“We felt that it was important to share the results of the report and to honour their participation,” Vyuk stated, referring to community members who chose to provide their input. “They were very brave to take part, and so we really wanted to honour that and will continue to do that.”
Kingston Police have since shared the report, stating their commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion work and mentioning some of the recommendations from the KSI report. Kingston Police have also indicated that recommendations from the report were used to inform their 2023-2026 Strategic Business Plan, though there has not been an opportunity for review by the KCHC team.
As of May 11, there has not been any significant progress in regards to the communication between Kingston Police and KCHC regarding the report and its implementation. Vyuk also spoke about moving forward after the release of the project, stating, “I’m certainly always open to that and would certainly collaborate with the police, the community and the city to build upon this very valuable research. We will continue to be proponents of change and help people make informed choices.”
To read the full report, you can go to KCHC’s website here.
Listen to the full story below featuring a discussion with Wendy Vyuk: