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New West hosting livestream forum on policing reform and crisis care

Crisis care providers featured in panel discussion
Overdose crisis - Photo Dan Toulgoet
The City of New Westminster is calling for changes to the Police Act. It's hosting a livestream roundtable discussion, Creating a Community of Care, on policing reform and community crisis

New West residents are invited to learn more about the city’s plans for policing reform and crisis care at a roundtable discussion with local organizations.

Coun.  Nadine Nakagawa will host a livestream roundtable discussion, Creating a Community of Care, on policing reform and community crisis care on Tuesday, Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m. The event will give residents a chance to learn more about the city’s new vision for policing and community crisis care and to hear about innovative approaches that are already underway.

“From the ongoing trauma caused by residential schools to the emergence of Black Lives Matter and police reform movements, it is clear that our systems for dealing with crisis care in the community are not working,” said Nakagawa, chair of the city’s police reform working group. “Our city council is listening to our community and taking a compassionate approach in exploring new ways to ensure we have a community that is safe, respectful and inclusive for all.”

After showing the city’s video submission to the province’s Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act, Nakagawa will lead a 30- to 45-minute panel discussion with Esther Hsieh, executive director of Umbrella Multicultural Health Co-Op, and Lynda Fletcher-Gordon, manager of the health contact centre operated by the Lower Mainland Purpose Society for Youth and Families. That will be followed by an open Q&A session.

According to the city, the discussion will focus on the connections between issues such as housing affordability, the opioid crisis, the global COVID-19 pandemic, community inclusivity and reconciliation, and police reform. 

The public is invited to submit questions to the panel in advance (nwmatters@newestcity.ca) or on Zoom during the live discussion.

The provincial government is currently considering reforms to the Police Act and has invited public submissions on the topic.

"We need fundamental changes in the policing model to move away from a focus on enforcement to address the root causes of the social disorders that disrupt our community’s quality of life and wellbeing," Nakagawa said in a news release. "What we need is housing, healthcare, and community services so all members of our community have the chance to thrive.”

In May, council supported a written and a video submission for the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act. The City of New Westminster’s approach to police reform is based on four core pillars:

* Developing a new model of community response that relies on a full spectrum of service providers to address public safety.

* Providing a voice for racialized and vulnerable populations so policing and supporting services are inclusive and respectful, rather than isolating and harmful.

* Enhancing and expanding the collection of data and its analysis so more informed decisions can be made on how public safety and related issues are being addressed.

* Reforming police boards to provide greater accountability at the community level.

The Zoom webinar discussion will be streamed live on the City of New Westminster’s Facebook page. A video of the discussion will later be posted on the New West Matters page on the city’s website at www.newwestcity.ca.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus
Email tmcmanus@newwestrecord.ca