A Black person is nearly 20 times more likely than a White person to be involved in a fatal shooting by the Toronto Police, according to a report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC).
The interim report, titled A collective impact, was released on December 10, which coincides with International Human Rights Day, and looks into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service (TPS).
“A Collective Impact is the latest in a body of reports, findings and recommendations—over the past 30 years—that point to persistent concerns about anti-Black racism in policing in Toronto,” said OHRC Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane, in a statement. “Our interim findings are disturbing and call for immediate action.”
A Collective Impact includes analysis of quantitative data received from the Special Investigations Unit, and a review of SIU Director’s Reports.
It also highlights legal decisions that have found discrimination against Black persons by the Toronto Police, according to the OHRC.
The results highlighted in the report are being called “disturbing” by the OHRC.
Between 2013 and 2017, they reported that a Black person was nearly 20 times more likely than a White person to be involved in a fatal shooting by police. And despite representing only 8.8% of Toronto’s population, Black people made up approximately 30% of police use-of-force cases that resulted in serious injury or death, 60% of deadly encounters with Toronto Police, and 70% of fatal police shootings.
The report also revealed that there was a lack of a legal basis for police stopping Black civilians in the first place, inappropriate searches and unnecessary charges or arrests.
The data also shows an over-representation of Black people in use of force cases that result in serious injury or death.
In a joint statement from the Toronto Police Services Board and the TPS, both parties said that members of the Toronto Police Service are “dedicated, professional and fair.”
“We recognize that there are those within Toronto’s Black communities who feel that, because of the colour of their skin, the police, including when it comes to use of force, have at times, treated them differently,” reads their statement. “We understand that this has created a sense of distrust that has lasted generations.”
They also acknowledged that no institution or organization, including the Toronto Police, is immune from overt and implicit bias.
The next phase of the OHRC inquiry will involve looking at lower-level use of force incidents, and analyzing data received on carding, certain charges and arrests, and conditions and forms of release for adults. The OHRC says it will also examine culture, training, policies, procedures and accountability mechanisms, and will continue to engage with Black communities.
Meanwhile, the TPS and Board say they have been working for several years to confront these challenges in a variety of ways.
But they said they hope the interim report is seen in its broader context, “causing bigger questions to be asked and real solutions to be identified.”
“Questions about poverty, social exclusion, inequality in our neighbourhoods and the root causes of crime and violence. Because once the police are involved, it is often after all other systems have failed.”
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