Police chief interviewed for Communitech’s online tech conference

Police chief interviewed for Communitech’s online tech conference


WATERLOO REGION — In a 30-minute interview with Communitech released online Tuesday, Police Chief Bryan Larkin repeated his desire to modernize policing and find new ways of delivering community services in response to the Black Lives Matter protests in Canada and around the world.

The discussion with Communitech chief executive officer Iain Klugman was part of the company’s True North TV YouTube series launched after the annual “tech for good” True North tech conference was moved online due to the pandemic.

The talk began with both men acknowledging their male, white privilege, but did not explicitly discuss demands to reallocate a portion of the annual police budget to community-based initiatives, nor did it address the use of modern and sometimes controversial surveillance technology by the police service.

“I’m a very privileged human being,” said Larkin. “And I’ve had many stakeholders and community leaders often pull me aside and say I need to use that privilege to make change and to challenge policy and challenge procedures. I’ve always been committed to that.”

The chief repeated many of the statements he made earlier this month to the Waterloo Regional Police Services Board, acknowledging his officers are responding to mental-health calls and other scenarios that might be better suited for mental-health professionals or other community members.

After the police board meeting, Larkin told reporters he didn’t see taking money from the police budget as a long-term solution. Instead, he suggested “refunding” other services to assist police with mental-health calls.

Local Black activists have called for about $29 million to be diverted from the $180-million police budget and invested in community-based health initiatives for impoverished and racialized groups.

When Communitech advertised the pre-recorded interview with the chief last week on its Twitter account, many criticized it as tone deaf.

Larkin’s Communitech interview comes one week after Klugman talked with Kitchener Centre member of provincial parliament Laura Mae Lindo, the New Democratic Party’s critic for anti-racism, and citizenship and immigration, as well as chair of the Official Opposition’s first Black Caucus.

“We have to do more than words, we have to do more than speaking,” she said in her interview. “We have to do more than desiring to have a better world — we have to actively create it.”

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