Inside the cement walls of the Peel Regional Police, Constable Satindervir Deol’s and Constable Tony Tai’s approachable natures shine.
Their genial personalities are key to their success engaging members of our community as part of the Peel Regional Police Equity and Inclusion Bureau. The unit, which was established in 1986 as Diversity Relations, works to promote inclusivity, develop relationships with the multicultural community and provide educational training to new Canadians. Tai and Satindervir are also tasked with reviewing all hate and bias-motivated crimes and incidents in the Peel region.
A burgeoning immigrant population has made the bureau’s work all the more necessary. In the past five years, the unit has grown from three to seven officers, all focused on reducing the negative impact of hate-based crime and incidents.
“We’re monitoring incidences of hate and bias-motivated crimes and following up with victims to make sure they’re getting support and reassurance,” said Deol. “Even if an incident reported doesn’t fall under the definition of a hate and bias-motivated crime, we have to put ourselves in the victims’ shoes and provide whatever help we can. Our Reassurance Protocol helps reduce the anxiety and fear a victim will feel about reporting an incident in the future.”
The unit’s seven officers also lead advisory committees with Peel Regional Police’s black, Chinese, LGBTQ+, Muslim, Sikh and youth communities, which create new initiatives to help make the Peel Region a safer place. Tai, who is fluent in Mandarin, leads the Chinese committee, while, Deol, who speaks Punjabi, heads the Sikh committee.
“There’s no physical measure for crime prevention… You can quantify an arrest or a report, but in our line of work, we hope to be preventative rather than reactive.”
Tai says many Canadian immigrants are also curious about the behind-the-scenes process of an emergency call.
“We’ve done a tour of our 911 call centre for the Chinese and Sikh advisory committees because they were interested in the same thing. A lot of the topics they bring up are about what police officers do, aside from answering and responding to emergency calls.”
Deol has also begun tailoring college presentations for students who may be living in Canada for the first time. Deol and his colleagues at Equity and Inclusion Bureau visit Sheridan’s Davis campus ahead of each school term, to highlight tenants’ rights for students living off-campus, and outline landlords’ legal responsibilities.
“In most cases, new immigrants are simply looking to get a clearer picture of their rights as Canadians” said Tai. The bureau regularly delivers a presentation titled “Emergency Services Introduction to New Canadians” that deals with everything from when to call 911 to credit card protection and financial fraud.
“Some days we do (these) presentations and get zero questions, but (other times) we stay for two hours answering questions after a 30-minute presentation,” said Deol. “That’s more satisfying because it means the groups are trying to learn, and that means we’re preventing more crimes.”
Helping people understand how to prevent crimes is one of the biggest rewards for Deol, who became a police officer as a way to give back to his community. After graduating from Sheridan College in 2008, he joined the Peel Regional Police. Tai joined in 2004, after working for a decade in the electronics industry, having graduated from Sheridan College with an Electrical Engineering Technician diploma. He joined the Equity and Inclusion Bureau in 2016, while Deol is the newest to the team, having joined in 2017.
Tai says that while his engineering past helps with some of the administrative work required of being a police officer, he loves that every day is an adventure that ends with people seeing the police as community partners. “What I like about my job is that every event is a bit different, depending on the person you’re talking to and the circumstances. There’s no physical measure for crime prevention… You can quantify an arrest or a report, but in our line of work, we hope to be preventative rather than reactive.”