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3. Why change?

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Police services have many reasons to engage in human rights organizational change. Police services across Ontario see an increasingly diverse society. As the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, former Chief Justice of Canada has said:

Whether we like it or not, religious, ethnic and cultural diversity is part of our modern world – and increasingly, part of our national and community reality. Human rights and the respect for every individual upon which they rest, offer the best hope for reconciling the conflicts this diversity is bound to generate. If we are to live together in peace and harmony – within our nations and as nations in the wider world – we must find ways to accommodate each other. Human rights, expressed in the fabric of our law and administered by our courts and tribunals, provide a way to accomplish this.[1]

While providing a framework for resolving conflict, human rights also help set a vision for harmony between differing members and groups in society.

Applying human rights values is a vital tool for effective policing in today’s world. Members of the public feel more confident in dealing and partnering with police and are more likely to respect, trust, and cooperate with police services when they feel the police respect their individual rights. Human rights organizational change can help build this kind of positive relationship between police and all of the
communities they serve.

Police services have had increasing numbers of human rights complaints over the last several years. These can be expensive to defend and resolve. As a result, many police services have seen human rights as working against their interests. Although some of these complaints may not be proven, complaint processes are a vital part of the commitment to human rights in Canadian society. Human rights organizational change will help prevent these types of complaints, and the knowledge gained will help police services learn from organizational failings and improve systems and practices.

[1] The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada at the Fourth Annual Human
Rights Lecture of the Law Society of Ireland in May 2008, at page 20


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