Toronto
2 min

Please, just read our minds

Cops don't mind going after people of colour, though

The Toronto Police Service does want more homos on the force, really – they’re just nervous about asking.



“I don’t believe that we have specifically gone and targeted gays and lesbians,” says Norman Gardner, chairman of the Toronto Police Services Board. “But I would welcome recruits from the gay and lesbian community and I would certainly have no problems if our employment people did something with the 519 [Church Street Community Centre].”



They’re not afraid of taking their message into other communities, though.



“While we are looking at visible minority groups that is not to say that we aren’t looking at everybody because we have a lot of people from everywhere,” says Gardner.



The new police recruiting campaign includes the placement of four billboards throughout the city, one across from a mall at Jane and Finch, a predominantly black neighbourhood, and one at Kennedy and McNichol. The billboards say “Toronto Police Now Hiring” and include the force’s phone number and website.



“The billboard is up there for everyone to read, including gays and lesbians who are more than welcome to come down and look into joining the force,” Gardner says.



Const Judy Nosworthy, community liaison officer for the gay and lesbian community, says police can’t ask about a recruits sexual orientation.



“Gays and lesbians have been the invisible minority forever, and there is nothing different in appearance, in skin colour, in dress, than with our heterosexual counterparts,” she says. “Within our human rights and hiring practices we cannot ask what somebody’s sexual orientation is.”



The police do seem to be able to find out about people’s ethnic origin and have issued lists of new officers, complete with their nationality or ethnicity.



Stephen Grant, acting staff inspector and unit commander of the force’s employment unit, decides where the other two recruitment billboards will be posted. He says it’s unlikely one will be put up in the gaybourhood.



But Grant is quick to point out that Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino has reached out to the queer community.



“Chief Fantino has attended a number of functions in the Church St community and we’ve had recruiting information and booths set up for gay Pride. So we are reaching out to the gay community,” says Grant.



Grant says sexual orientation is not at all an issue with police.



“Whoever can meet our standards is more than welcome to join us. We are trying to encourage and open lines of communication with all minority groups in the city.”



Nosworthy says that recruiting in the gay community “is essential.”



“I know that we have been trying to recruit in the Church Wellesley neighbourhood for a number of years, but there’s obviously a lot more we can be doing,” says Nosworthy.



Nosworthy also says that members of the queer community interested in being officers should not be worried about homophobia on the force because, against the stereotype, “there is a large community of gay and lesbian officers that exist on the force.”