Const. Amarjit Nijjar has been named the White Rock RCMP’s bias-free policing advisor, in addition to his front-line duties as an officer. (RCMP handout)

Const. Amarjit Nijjar has been named the White Rock RCMP’s bias-free policing advisor, in addition to his front-line duties as an officer. (RCMP handout)

White Rock RCMP officer tasked with seeking out signs of racial bias

Detachment continues review of racial bias in policing

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls says the detachment is keeping a “critical eye” on unconscious racial bias within the seaside police force and, to that end, has designated one of its five-year veterans a “bias-free policing advisor.”

During the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, which took place across the U.S. and in Canada in 2020 following the brutal police killing of George Floyd, who was black and unarmed, the White Rock RCMP launched a review of its own policies and street checks to look for any indication of racial bias.

At City of White Rock’s regular meeting Monday, Pauls provided an update on the review and the new role of Const. Amarjit Nijjar as the bias-free policing advisor, in addition to his front-line duties as an officer.

“I do not tolerate discriminatory behaviour. And the diversity of our officers allows for critical discussions on many important societal and policing issues at our detachment,” Pauls told council.

“The monitoring for bias in policing, in particular unconscious bias, is an ongoing proactive process that has to form the culture of policing. Part of this process in White Rock is to have a bias-free policing advisor.”

Kale noted that Nijjar views matters through an informed lens, based on his lived experience with racism and discrimination, and some policies have already been adjusted as a result of the review.

Nijjar, who was also present at Monday’s meeting to provide information and answer questions, told council that the White Rock RCMP has concluded that terms such as “Indo-Canadian gang” and “Asian organized crime,” are inappropriate to use, but noted that both are still occasionally used by the media and government.

RELATED: White Rock RCMP reviews street checks for racial bias

Nijjar told council that the police force has also acquired a service that gives its officers real-time translation via phone, video, or in-person of more than 200 languages.

“We continue to evaluate our detachment policies to ensure that they are inclusive and unbiased in relation to race, national or ethnic origin, skin colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, citizenship, socio-economic status, genetic characteristics and disability,” Nijjar said.

The internal review was launched after RCMP Cmsr. Brenda Lucki and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that systemic racism exists in the national policing organization, however, Trudeau and Lucki did not provide practical examples or rationale to support the conclusion of today’s RCMP.

A review of the street checks in White Rock, which was completed in July and was one of the first steps in the internal review process, indicated that they were being done in a bias-free way.

“How we came up with this idea is we looked at the media, we looked at what the public was saying. We looked at our own detachment and figured out, OK, are we doing what we see in the media?”Pauls explained to council.

“If we are, or if we are not, let’s have something in place to make sure we never go down that road. When the community asks us about what we’re doing about racism… we have a sufficient answer for that, that’s going to be justified with our actions.”

Both Pauls and White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker said they did not know of any other RCMP detachments, or municipal police forces, that have undertaken such a review.

Pauls received praise from a number of councillors for undertaking the initiative.

“I think the attitude is one that we need in our community,” Walker said.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, it’s treating people the same and treating them right. I think that’s something that you’ve kind of pioneered here for us.”

Pauls told PAN that no allegations of discrimination were made against the RCMP detachment in 2020. He said that any complaints about racism or bias would be initially investigated by him if the allegation involved an individual officer. A complaint about the detachment would be investigated by RCMP’s “E” Division.

“The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission would also have oversight of these investigations in many cases,” he added.

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