Insp. Periversoff: healing or dividing?

by Gary McHale - The Regional

March 31, 2010

When Insp. Periversoff first arrived as the new inspector for Haldimand County there was a lot of hope that the words contained in his first letter to the community that was published included:

"I challenge openly all community members, and especially those who are seen as community leaders, to provide meaningful and relevant initiatives to bridge the issues and support tolerance... I look forward to open and transparent dialogue that carries the messages of tolerance and community healing while underpinning safety, security and quality of life for all."

In Dec. 2009 Insp. Periversoff was invited to speak at a town hall meeting that would be hosted by CANACE as a means to allow him to express his position directly to the people who were most concerned about what has happened on DCE. Insp. Periversoff was also invited to speak to the public at the Anti-Racism rally on March 21, 2010.

He has declined any offer to speak openly to the public on the issues. Instead of coming and speaking to the public he posted a letter on the Haldimand County website on March 12, 2010. The letter included the following:

"The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is committed to maintain public peace, safety and order. The dangers that are involved in providing this public service were strongly underpinned this week with the tragic murder of Constable Vu Pham of the OPP Huron Detachment.  There is little in life that prepares us for the loss of a police officer. While there are those out there in our society that criticize police to further personal agendas, where would our communities be without these motivated and dedicated citizens whom have chosen public service through policing?"

It now appears that Insp. Periversoff believes that because Cst. Vu Pham died while on duty all people in Ontario are wrong to ever criticize the OPP. I cannot imagine the Toronto Police telling the Black community or the Asian community in Toronto to stop criticizing the police because an officer was killed.

It is a fundamental principle within all democratic societies that citizens not only have a right but a duty to hold the Government and their agents accountable for their actions. While it is tragic that Cst. Vu Pham was killed it is also true it is completely unrelated to Caledonia.

It should be noted that two days prior to Insp. Periversoff's letter we posted a story on one of our associate website called, "Condolences to family, OPP brothers/sisters of Const. Vu Pham".

Mark Vandermaas, co-founder of CANACE, states in this story the following: "I was saddened at the death of OPP Constable Vu Pham in the line of duty on March 08/10, and would like to offer my sincere condolences to his family and his brothers and sisters on the force. Readers know that I have been highly critical of OPP policies with respect to Caledonia and racial policing, and of officers who enforce them. Part of the reason I – and many others – feel so much passion for these issues is because of the deep respect we hold for police officers and the onerous job they do on behalf of us all. I think, too, for those like me who once wore a uniform, the sadness at the loss of a police officer is even more deeply felt.  Attacks on police officers are attacks on the rule of law and on democracy itself. They can never go unpunished."

I believe Insp. Periversoff is absolutely wrong to use the tragic murder of Cst. Vu Pham as a means to silence the public.

Insp. Periversoff's letter goes on to say, "While a variety of self serving agendas continue to manifest and inject unnecessary discord into our community, perhaps as a community it is time to reflect on the need, appropriateness and true agenda of those groups and what is really occurring."

This is quite an amazing statement by Insp. Periversoff. It appears that people like Dave Brown, Dana Chatwell, Sam Gaultieri, Dave Hartless, Merlyn Kinrade and hundreds of others who have criticized the OPP are people with self serving agendas.

What self serving agendas do these people have other than wanting to live in peace without having their families attacked or intimidated by Native Protesters? Is it wrong for these people to want the OPP to do their job and provide the community with proper police service?

Maybe Insp. Periversoff could explain why he thinks it is the tolerant thing to do when he calls for the community to reflect on the need and appropriateness and true agendas of these people?

Is Insp. Periversoff suggesting that the community rise up against these people and others?

Last week a meeting was held at the Cayuga Police Station to seek answers to these questions and others. Insp. Periversoff refused to attend the meeting but sent S.Sgt. Carter to speak for the OPP. Each question that was asked had the same reply from Sgt. Carter which was, "You will have to speak to Insp. Periversoff about that."

Merlyn Kinrade then asked S.Sgt. Carter to schedule a meeting with Insp. Periversoff in order to have open and transparent dialogue.

A few hours later Mr. Kinrade received a phone call stating Insp. Periversoff was not willing to have a meeting with him. Insp. Periversoff has turned down about a dozen requests in the past 3 months to have meetings.

The question that needs to be asked is whether those who lead the community should unite and stand up against their fellow neighbours who have been criticizing the OPP? Should residents on the north side of Caledonia oppose those near DCE? Should the OPP be encouraging community leaders to question their neighbours? Does Insp. Periversoff truly believe that the people who criticize the OPP want anything but to live in peace?

There are many questions but few answers. Insp. Periversoff has turned down at least 3 attempts at seeking his views on these questions. He has even been emailed a copy of this column for his comments, and has not got back to us.

Therefore, one final question should be asked and that is whether Insp. Periversoff is seeking to truly help in the healing or is this just another attempt by the OPP to divide the community.