THE Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) on Monday released A collective impact, the interim report on its inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service (TPS) that shows an over-representation of Black people in use of force cases that result in serious injury or death.
The inquiry involved examining racial disparities in how police services are provided in Toronto, and marrying the hard data with lived experiences and case law. The OHRC said its goal is to build trust in law enforcement and make our communities safer, because when diverse communities trust the police, they see themselves as allies of law enforcement rather than targets.
“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. “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.
The results highlighted in the report are disturbing. For example:
- Between 2013 and 2017, a Black person was nearly 20 times more likely than a White person to be involved in a fatal shooting by the Toronto Police.
- 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 SIU Director’s Reports reveal instances where 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 reports and legal decisions also raise broader concerns about officer misconduct, transparency and accountability.
The OHRC heard first-hand about the experiences of Black people with the TPS and the resulting fear, trauma, humiliation, mistrust and expectations of negative treatment, and about the damage that one person’s negative experience can have on entire Black communities.
The next phase of the 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 will also examine culture, training, policies, procedures and accountability mechanisms, and will continue to engage with Black communities.
All of this work will lead to a final inquiry report, with findings, recommendations and next steps.