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Public inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service

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Last updated April 30, 2021

Update on the OHRC’s inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service – April 2021

Over the past few months, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has continued to hear from Black communities about the damaging effects of policing issues, including over-charging and excessive use of force, systemic racism and anti-Black bias – the same issues we have heard for over four decades.

A Disparate Impact, the OHRC’s second interim report, was cited by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice as part of the social context of systemic racism in policing when determining an appropriate sentence for Officer Michael Theriault, whose assault of Dafonte Miller with a metal pipe while off duty sparked outrage from Black communities across Canada.

Next steps: a final report

We have experienced some delays related to COVID-19 and the receipt of information from the Toronto Police Service (TPS) and Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB), but our work has continued. Dr. Wortley is completing his analysis of data related to TPS stop, question and search practices. As well, the OHRC has been analyzing TPS and TPSB policies, procedures, training and accountability mechanisms. We have completed interviews of TPS leaders and have sought input from TPS officers, and continue to engage with Black community leaders and advocacy groups. 

A final report, which will include an extensive series of recommendations, is now planned for release in fall 2021.

 

Interim report: A Disparate Impact

On August 10, 2020, the OHRC released its second interim report in its inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service.

A Disparate Impact confirms that Black people were more likely than others to be arrested, charged, over-charged, struck, shot or killed by Toronto police.

A Disparate Impact includes two expert reports from criminologist Dr. Scot Wortley, who analyzed quantitative TPS data ranging from 2013 to 2017. The results highlighted in Racial Disparity in Arrests and Charges: An analysis of arrest and charge data from the Toronto Police Service, and Use of force by the Toronto Police Service: Final report, are highly disturbing, and confirm what Black communities have said for decades – that Black people bear a disproportionate burden of law enforcement.

 

Steps taken since the release of A Collective Impact

After the release of A Collective Impact, the OHRC continued to engage with the TPS and TPSB. For example, it made oral and written submissions to the TPSB related to their data collection policy. Coming out of the recommendations from A Collective Impact, the OHRC is pleased that the TPSB adopted a policy on collecting race data. This is a significant step forward in the TPSB’s efforts to identify and address systemic discrimination.

The OHRC engaged with Black communities to gather first-hand accounts within the scope of the inquiry, including through focus groups. It met with over 70 individuals across the GTA and heard similar concerns related to fear, trauma, humiliation, mistrust and expectations of negative treatment by the TPS as those expressed in A Collective Impact.

 

Interim report: A Collective Impact

On December 10, 2018, the OHRC released A Collective Impact, its first interim report on the inquiry. A Collective Impact included an analysis of quantitative data received from the SIU, as well as a review of SIU Director’s Reports, which had never before been released to the public. It also highlighted legal decisions that found discrimination against Black persons by the Toronto Police and summarized our engagements with Black people across the city.

 

Background

On November 30, 2017, the OHRC announced that it launched a public interest inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination by the Toronto Police Service. Using its legislated inquiry powers under section 31 of Ontario’s Human Rights Code, the OHRC called for the TPS, the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) and the Special Investigations Unit to provide a wide range of data to determine exactly how and where racial profiling operates in law enforcement.

 

About the inquiry

The OHRC is inquiring into the practices and activities of the TPS between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2017, to assess whether they are consistent with racial profiling and racial discrimination against the Black community, including in the areas of:

  • Stop and questioning practices
  • Use of force
  • Arrests and charges, and forms and conditions of release for various offence categories, including:
    • Simple drug possession
    • Obstructing or assaulting a police officer
    • Causing a disturbance
    • Failing to comply with a bail condition (see Terms of Reference for complete list).

The OHRC is also examining the TPS and TPSB’s culture, training, policies, procedures and accountability mechanisms relating to racial profiling and racial discrimination.

 

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