Windsor Police held its ‘Coffee With A Cop’ on June 27 at the Caffeine & Co., housed in an inaccessible building in Amherstburg, Ontario.
Windsor, as a Proponent to the Amherstburg RFP Police Services, was informed in section 33, ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (AODA), that it shall ensure that all its employees receive training regarding the provision of goods and services to per sons with disabilities in accordance with the AODA.
Windsor Police should have already created Accessible Customer Service policies pursuant to provincial legislation that included training:
7.(1) Every obligated organization shall ensure that training is provided on the requirements of the accessibility standards referred to in this Regulation and on the Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities.
On February 24, 2011 the Windsor Police Service, Windsor Police Services Board, Ontario Human Rights Commission and Ontario Police College launched the Human Rights Project; Vision Statement:
The Windsor Police Service endeavours to be a professional, effective and accountable law enforcement organization that upholds the human rights and dignity of all people in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Windsor Police Service is committed to playing its part in making Windsor a community where everyone lives, works and visits in a safe, comfortable and inclusive environment.
The Human Rights Project Final Report 2014 noted next steps:
The inclusion of human rights themes through all WPS training and the requirement to monitor training programs to ensure that human rights issues are being addressed on an ongoing basis, will assist WPS members to provide services to the public without discrimination.
As a long time accessibility advocate, I asked Windsor Police for an explanation and received the following:
“My name is Jason Bellaire and I am the Inspector in charge of our uniform patrol officers at the Windsor Police Service (WPS). I was not at the “Coffee with a Cop” event last night (due to a prior commitment); however, I am somewhat familiar with the location where the event was held. This appears to be a regretful oversight on our part as co-organizers of the event. Please accept my apology on behalf of WPS and I assure you that better consideration regarding accessibility will be given when planning future events.
We genuinely appreciate your bringing this issue to our attention and we always welcome any critical feedback from our community members, partners and stakeholders. Once again, please accept our apologies for this misstep and always feel free to contact us with any concerns. Have a safe and happy summer.”
As much as I appreciate the apology, after the fact, I would rather this type of incident not occur in the first place.
Commentary by Linda Saxon