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More Punjabi-speaking officers for Abbotsford police
The Abbotsford Police Department has set a goal of ensuring that half of any officers hired in the future speak Punjabi or Hindi.
Const. Ian MacDonald said currently only six per cent of the department is made up of officers of South Asian descent, but in order to better reflect the community, that number should be around 15 or 16 per cent.
In order to get there over time, the target has been set for 50 per cent until the numbers are reached.
“It’s the best-case scenario. It’s what we’re aiming for,” MacDonald said. “It’s a balance between ensuring we have the best candidate and looking for the best skills.”
He said language barriers can sometimes cause issues for officers in a community that has a relatively high non-English-speaking population.
In such circumstances, a translator might have to be called in, causing delays in the investigation.
MacDonald said it only makes sense to have a police force that is representative of the makeup of the city.
Stats released at a recent meeting of the Abbotsford Police Board indicate that of the city’s 230 officers, 14 (six per cent) are South Asian, five (two per cent) are aboriginal, five are Asian, two (one per cent) are black, and one (.5 per cent) is Hispanic.
As well, 41 (18 per cent) are female, compared to the provincial average of 21.2 per cent and the national average of 19.1 per cent.