Learning about language, building bridges part of role of DPD liaison


Delta police Const. Lee Chapman is familiar to many in South Delta, but in addition to his duties in the Tsawwassen Community Police Office, he has an important role as the liaison member of the Delta Pride Society.

He’s also an ally member of a new organization called Out on Patrol, for Metro Vancouver police, and is the co-chair of the BC Law Enforcement Diversity Network.

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Chapman describes his role as part education, part engagement and always being open to learning from others. For example, as society evolves, Chapman says he’s struck by the importance of language.

“I recently sent a text to some of the members of the Delta Pride Society, and I started by saying, ‘Hey guys.’ I realized my mistake right away, so I sent a follow up text saying, ‘Sorry, I made a mistake,’” he explains.

“One of the things I’ve learned in my work with the (Delta) Pride Society is that it’s OK to ask what someone’s pronouns are. It’s OK to make mistakes. What matters is when someone acknowledges it. That’s what I try to pass along to other police officers.”

Changes in language, and giving police officers a way to reflect those changes, are now incorporated into the PRIME database that police use all across B.C.

In the past police had to choose between male, female and gender unknown for options to describe a person within PRIME, whether that person was a witness, suspect, etc., but since last August there is a new category called Gender Diverse.

Looking for ways to engage with diverse groups is another important aspect of community policing. Chapman enjoys his role in building bridges in the community.

During Pride Month in June, he brought members of the Delta Pride Society into DPD headquarters where they sat down with Chief Neil Dubord and others to create hand-made rainbow pins for the whole department to wear, including officers and civilians.

The Delta Police Department is currently doing research to determine the best way for a department of its size to reach out to those who are marginalized or subject to discrimination by others.

One of the options being considered is whether the department should have a separate diversity unit or diversity officer. The department is also considering what types of training might be able to be incorporated.

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