Policing Refugees Requires Sensitivity And Patience

Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy. Photo: Ray Hudson
Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy.  Photo: Ray Hudson
Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy.
Photo: Ray Hudson


by Ray Hudson

Surrey: Policing newcomers to Canada requires more sensitivity and patience says Surrey’s Police Chief, Bill Fordy. In public presentations the Chief Superintendent stresses that many of these people are coming from cultures where they cannot trust police, and often fear them. With that perspective, should refugees become victims of crime, they are unlikely to report the crime or seek assistance from police.

“Law enforcement in Surrey and across the country needs to be very sensitive because may of these people come from parts of the world where they don’t trust the police, they have no confidence in the justice system, and they might even think they are corrupt,” he said.

He referred to the turn around in perspective by Mateen Aminie, an immigrant young person who was assaulted. When he finally went to police, he admitted that in his early interactions with police, he didn’t trust them. Despite that, and as a result of caring and sensitive treatment from three officers, he came to see the police as positive people. Subsequently, his views changed so dramatically that he’s currently working for the Surrey Crime Prevention Society and wishes to continue on to become a member of the RCMP.

“I didn’t know what he was going to say,” said Fordy of Aminie’s presentation. “I was really proud to hear that, and my intent is to reach out to the three police officers and let them know how their kind actions have changed the trajectory of that man’s life, and probably be a positive impact on many, many people. This example we heard underscores the importance of treating people with respect and dignity, listening to them and not being judgmental. Rather we should reinforce the notion that everyone deserves a second chance at enjoying all the terrific things about our country.”

One of the major advantages of policing in Surrey is the highly diverse nature of the detachment members, from the constables on the street to the senior management.

“I think one of the things that we’ve been able to do in Surrey, from the top down” said Fordy, “is really embrace diversity of the men and women on my senior leadership team, many of whom were immigrants to this country. They bring different life experiences and perspectives that I think are helpful and will only continue to serve us well as we try to build upon the great relationships we already have.