The Toronto Police Service is actively recruiting queer officers. About a dozen people came out to an information session held at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto on Oct 4 for homos interested in a career in policing.
“We’ve had a very good response and the success is that we’re getting applications from sessions like this,” says Sgt Paul Myers of the service’s employment unit. “Applications and police officers have come out of these sessions that might not have come otherwise. We’ve made a conscious effort to be more forward, to be more open and more inclusive of all the different groups of people.”
In recent years the force has tried to recruit officers who are reflective of Toronto’s ethnic and cultural backgrounds. But when it comes to recruiting queer officers the service admits there is still lingering mistrust among some in the community.
“We all know that the Toronto police has had a troubled history,” the force’s LGBT liaison officer Thomas Decker told participants at the recent recruitment session. “But the change over the years has been incredible.”
Decker says that the service has become a more progressive entity that promotes increasing awareness of, equality and respect toward Toronto’s queer and trans citizens. Programs such as mandatory sensitivity training for all employees as well as strict procedures regarding discrimination have made it a much better working environment for queer personnel, says Decker, who applied to be a Toronto cop in 2003.
“I made a choice to be out to my coworkers,” he says. “No job is worth being in the closet for.”
The force doesn’t keep statistics on the sexual orientation of applicants and there’s no way to say how many queers are actually on the force, but the officers present at the recruitment session say they’ve definitely seen an increased queer presence on the force.
“When I first started I couldn’t identify one gay male [on the force],” says Const Gail Steed of the Toronto Police Service’s recruiting team, “but that’s not the case anymore. There’s been a huge change. It’s not really an issue anymore.”
“I’m out there in the community and trying to be as visible as possible,” says Decker.