Hamilton Deputy Police Chief Frank Bergen headed a delegation to the meeting of the LGBTQ Advisory Committee Tuesday to ask the committee’s advice on how to implement some of the recommendations made by consultant Scott Bergman in the wake of the 2019 Hamilton Pride violence at Gage Park.
The recommendations included:
- Appointment of a mediator or facilitator to facilitate future meetings with the LGBTQ
- HPS should consider holding larger town hall meetings to review their action plan, ‘The Way Forward’
- HPD to consult with the community to determine if and when it may be appropriate to recreate a community task force/advisory committee.
- HPS leadership should consider having an inspector or higher-ranking officer work with the HPS’s Community Relations staff to conduct ongoing community outreach.
- HPS to work within the TwoSpirit and LGBTQIA+ communities in order to receive experiential training in conjunction with more traditional, lecture-oriented sessions. Officers of all ranks should interact with community members on a more regular basis.
After reiterating the apology that had been given earlier by former Police Chief Eric Girt, Bergen said Hamilton Police had already implemented a number of the recommendations that dealt strictly with HPS, but now were looking for advice from the committee on how to move forward with the recommendations that required interaction with the TwoSpirit and LGBTQIA+ community. He asked the committee with a view to the recommendations listed above “what does success look like?”
Instead of advice on how to work with the community, the Chief was provided with a re-hash of the 2019 events at Gage Park by some members. Committee Chair Cameron Kroetsch told chief Bergen there was still a lack of trust in his mind with the HPS. One person in a presentation to the committee accused Hamilton police of “materially supporting” the Proud Boys. Kroetsch and other members seemed focused on getting the police to admit they had taken no steps to foster police-LGBTQ relations before the Hamilton Pride report. As for the provision of advice by the committee on how to work with them, Kroetsch told the chief the committee is not allowed to meet beyond the public meetings, and that he would need advice from City Clerk on how they might be able to set up some mechanism to work with HPS. One sore issue was the fact that the bail of Cedar Hopperton who was convicted for her role in the violent Locke Street rampage in 2019 had been revoked because of her participation in the Hamilton Pride event.
Committee member James Diemert introduced the possible issue of whether the broader LGBTQ community is actually represented by the LGBTQ advisory committee. ” Diemert told Chief Bergen, he was “on the right track” in seeking ways to interact with as many members of the LGBTQ community as possible saying, we are not a monolithic community. There’s going to be an enormous diversity of opinion and feelings around this no matter what.” To which Bergen replied, “warmly received James, thank you.”