Winnipeg’s police service has long been a mostly male and white force, and experts are calling for greater diversity in the ranks.
The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) is the largest municipal police force in the province of Manitoba, and it has a long history of serving the city. But while it has come a long way in recent years, it is still overwhelmingly male and white.
According to the latest statistics, women make up only 11% of the force and visible minorities make up just 5%. In comparison, 28% of the city’s population is visible minority and women make up nearly half of the population.
The lack of diversity in the WPS has been an issue for some time, but it has become increasingly pressing in the wake of a number of high-profile incidents of police violence against Indigenous and racialized people in Canada. In the face of these incidents, the police have been criticized for not doing enough to address systemic racism and discrimination in their ranks.
Experts say that increasing diversity in the police force is essential for improving police-community relations and for creating a force that is more representative of the city it serves.
“Diversity is absolutely essential for any police force,” says Kevin Walby, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg. “It’s critical to ensure that the force is reflective of the community it serves and that it is better equipped to understand and address the unique needs of different populations.”
Walby notes that greater diversity in the police force can also lead to better decision-making, as more diverse voices can provide different perspectives and bring a greater understanding of the communities they serve.
“Having a more diverse police force can lead to better decisions, better relationships, and greater trust,” he says.
To increase diversity in the WPS, Walby says that the police force needs to actively recruit from a wider range of backgrounds, including Indigenous and racialized communities. He also suggests that the WPS should look to create a more inclusive workplace by implementing policies that promote diversity and prevent discrimination.
“It’s not just about recruiting more diverse people, but also making sure that they are welcomed and supported in their role,” he explains.
Ultimately, Walby believes that the WPS needs to take concrete steps to improve diversity in the ranks, as it is essential for creating a police force that is more reflective of the city it serves.
“It’s important to recognize that the lack of diversity in the police force is a problem, and it needs to be addressed,” he says. “It’s a necessary step for creating a police force that is more inclusive and better equipped to serve the needs of all Winnipeg citizens.”