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Letter to the Toronto Police Service on TPS consultation with the OHRC about race-based data collection

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December 22, 2020

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WITHOUT PREJUDICE

Suelyn Knight
Manager, Equity, Inclusion and Human Rights Unit
Toronto Police Service
40 College Street
Toronto, ON M5G 2J3

Dear Ms. Knight:

Re: TPS consultation with the OHRC regarding race-based data collection

Thank you for the invitation to participate in the Toronto Police Service’s (TPS) consultation on race-based data collection, specifically its Draft Options for Other Interactions in Phase II and Draft Analysis Framework. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) acknowledges and commends the TPS for its extensive consultation with communities regarding race-based data collection.

Over 30 years of reports and recommendations tell us that data collection is the foundation to combat racial discrimination in law enforcement. Although we have praised Toronto Police Services Board’s (TPSB) Policy on race-based data collection, analysis and public reporting (Policy) as a historic step forward, this proposed implementation demonstrates a lack of will and leadership. We have serious concerns about the narrow scope of interactions included in phase II of the implementation of the Policy and extended timelines.

Draft options for other interactions in phase II

Scope

While we appreciate that there are constraints that may affect Policy implementation, including COVID-19, the scope of phase II is far too narrow. It will not allow the TPS and the TPSB to realize our shared goal of identifying, monitoring and eliminating systemic racism.

We understand that data collection under phase II begins on January 1, 2021. Based on TPS documents, we were under the impression that phase II would include all remaining race-based data collection under the Policy, including involving stops; searches; charges and arrests; and use of force. However, the TPS advised that the scope of phase II data collection is much narrower and, instead, there may be further phases when systems are updated.

The scope of phase II data collection may include:

  • All arrests, charges and releases
  • Traffic and pedestrian stops, but only those that result in written warnings, tickets or arrests
  • Use of force that results in physical injury regardless of the extent of any such injury or medical attention received (the TPS advised that this will begin in the summer of 2021).

Thus, phase II will not include all stops, including investigative detentions; level 1 searches (frisk or pat-down searches); level 2 searches (a more thorough search that does not rise to the level of a level 3/strip search); and fails to include contextual information about use of force flagged by OHRC that presently does not appear in a provincial Use of Force Report, like mental health. It will also, presumably, not include data about charges, arrests and releases that was unavailable in our inquiry and flagged by Dr. Wortley as relevant.

In light of the foregoing omissions, the scope of phase II is inadequate. It fails to respond to longstanding concerns about systemic anti-Black racism, racial profiling and racial discrimination in stops, searches and use of force or allow for sufficient monitoring and accountability in these areas. Furthermore, the failure to include mental health prevents the TPS and TPSB from identifying, monitoring and addressing discriminatory use of force on people with mental health disabilities and sufficiently consider intersections with race. This flies in the face of the spirit of important recommendations by the jury from the inquest into the death of Andrew Loku.

Timing

We are unaware of the timeline for any further phases but assume it will be a prolonged period since it seems to depend on system changes (e.g. e-memo books). Overall, the extended timelines to implement the TPSB’s Policy suggest a real lack of leadership and will.

We stated the following in our written deputation to the TPSB in September 2019, when we recommended that all phases be implemented by January 1, 2021.

The TPSB and TPS are well-positioned to learn from the experience of the Ottawa Police Service and Ottawa Police Services Board in their Traffic Stop Data Collection Project, which included quality assurance measures, software upgrades, officer and supervisor training, community engagement, internal and external communications, data monitoring and extraction, and data storage and security.

Indeed, the Ottawa Police Service created its own form on Versadex for race-based data collection on all traffic stops and began collecting the data about a year after the execution of the Ottawa Police Service’s Board’s settlement with the OHRC.

Draft Analysis Framework

We completed the TPS’s form to provide written feedback about its Draft Analysis Framework. The form is enclosed with this letter.

The OHRC strongly encourages the TPS to broaden the scope of phase II in a timely manner to realize our shared goal of identifying, monitoring and eliminating systemic racism.

 

Sincerely,

Ena Chadha, LL.B., LL.M.
Chief Commissioner

cc:         Ryan Teschner, Executive Director and Chief of Staff, Toronto Police Services Board
             Anthony Morgan, Co-chair of the Toronto Police Services Board’s Anti-Racism Advisory Panel and Manager of the City of Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit
             OHRC Commissioners