London, Ont. police hope new ‘engagement centre’ in mall will improve community trust – London |


As part of a push to build and enhance trust within the community, the London Police Service has opened a Community Engagement Centre inside CF Masonville Place.

Police say the space will “provide our sworn, civilian, and auxiliary members with a way of engaging with the community that is new and unique to the LPS” and that “all Londoners” are encouraged to stop by.

LPS members will be at the centre from noon to 3 p.m. on weekdays and the space may also sometimes be used for more specific engagement sessions, for example recruiting or crime prevention education.

“We’re grateful for Cadilliac Fairview’s generous offer to provide us with storefront space inside Masonville Place,” said Deputy Chief Paul Bastien.

“This partnership is a great opportunity for us to engage with the community on a personal level — to share information, to answer questions, and to get to know each other a little.”

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The six-month pilot project was soft-launched in December.

In announcing the centre, the service said “a key priority for the LPS is building and enhancing trust within our community, and an important way to do that is through ongoing, proactive engagement with Londoners.”

It follows a tumultuous few years for public trust in policing in general and in particular with the London Police Service.

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In 2016, the province released its final regulations, effective Jan. 1, 2017, to ban police from randomly stopping people to collect personal information, a practice known as carding or street checks. Critics argued statistics showed visible minorities were disproportionately targeted, and police have been accused of exploiting the fact that many people don’t realize they’re voluntary.

London was the first Canadian municipality to vote in a largely symbolic motion calling on police to end street checks, or carding, in 2016. The motion came after then-councillor Mo Salih gave an impassioned seven-minute speech in which he described the humiliation he felt when he was carded. He also said he personally had been stopped by police 15 times — as a teen and an adult — for no reason in different municipalities across the province.

In 2017, an explosive Globe and Mail report highlighting the number of sex crimes cases deemed “unfounded” by police across the country began by discussing a particular case deemed unfounded by the London Police Service. The story prompted London police to launch a review of sex assault cases between 2010 and 2016, while then-chief John Pare issued a formal apology to victims.

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Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020, which sparked worldwide outrage and protests, London saw its largest-ever rally as roughly 10,000 people gathered downtown in support of Black Lives Matter. The movement drew increased scrutiny on police budgets and calls for reform. 

Most recently,  Chief Thai Truong apologized to a complainant and her family on behalf of the force for taking nearly six years to charge five then-members of Canada’s 2018 world junior hockey team in a sex assault case that was initially closed without charges in 2019.

“I want to extend on behalf of the London Police Service my sincerest apology to the victim, to her family for the amount of time that it has taken to reach this point,” he said, after noting to reporters present that the woman — who was 20 at the time of the alleged sexual assault — had indicated that is how she prefers to be described.

“It shouldn’t take years and years for us to arrive at the outcome of today.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court. The case will be back in court on April 30.

— with files from Global News’ Aaron D’Andrea, Sean Boynton and Scott Monich, from the Canadian Press’ Keith Leslie, and from Andrew Graham and Liny Lamberink.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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