Thursday, February 26, 2009

Toronto Police Service to participate in study of racial profiling

In a precedent setting step, the Toronto Police Service have agreed to participate in an American study of policing to be conducted by the Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity by providing the research group with data on race.

What remains uncertain is what race data the police will share. The problem with arrest data is that it only shows who is arrested not who comes into contact with the police. Hopefully, it will be contact cards and use of force data that is released. It is this data that will reveal the scope of over-policing of racialized groups in Toronto.

To date, the only police service in Canada to officially collect race data on police stops is the Kingston Police Service despite repeated calls by academics and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The KPS launched a one-year pilot project in 2003. The Kingston experience is summarized in an article by its former Chief, Bill Closs, and Paul McKenna -- "Profiling a Problem in Canadian Police Leadership: the Kingston Police Data Collection Project" (2008), 49 Canadian Public Administration 143.

This is another significant step take by the Toronto Police Service to address the problem of racial profiling. In 2007, the TPS and the Ontario Human Rights Commission signed a Charter Project document which "formalized a three-year collaborative approach to human rights and anti-racism perspectives in all policing activities." In July, 2008, the first Annual Status Report of the Charter was published.

Posted by Professor Tanovich

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