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Re: Plan of Action to Prevent Racial Profiling

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September 15, 2017

Eli El-Chantiry
Chair, Ottawa Police Services Board
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1P 2J1

Chief Charles Bordeleau
Ottawa Police Service
P.O. Box 9634 Station T
Ottawa, Ontario K1G 6H5

Dear Chair El-Chantiry and Chief Bordeleau:

Re: Plan of Action to Prevent Racial Profiling

I hope this finds you well. Thank you for meeting with us on June 6, 2017 to discuss the Ottawa Police Service’s Multi-Year Action Plan for Bias-Neutral Policing (MYAP). In many ways, the MYAP is an encouraging plan that broadly focuses on promoting anti-bias values while also trying to rebuild public trust. We look forward to its development in the coming months and years. 

Today, I am writing to request an update on the OPS’s response to the Traffic Stop Race Data Collection Project (TSRDCP) report dated October 2016. In particular, please let us know by reply letter what steps the OPS has undertaken to combat racial profiling since the TSRDCP report was released, including any further analysis that the OPS has undertaken at an operational level, specific changes to OPS’ policies and procedures, and any internal or external analysis of the data collected since the TSRDCP report was released.

As you will recall, the TSRDCP arose as a result of a human rights complaint, in which a young Black man alleged that he experienced racial profiling by OPS officers. The Ottawa Police Services Board (OPSB) and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) reached a settlement in 2012. As part of the settlement, the OPS agreed that its officers would collect race-based data on traffic stops for two years beginning in 2013. The OPS fully complied with the settlement and even went beyond what was required in its data collection efforts, resulting in a comprehensive police data collection initiative. 

The final TSRDCP report found that Black and Middle Eastern people experienced disproportionately high incidences of traffic stops. Black drivers were stopped 2.3 times more often than you would expect based on their driving population and Middle Eastern drivers were stopped 3.3 times more often. Young male Black drivers (age 16-24) were stopped 8.3 times more often than would be expected based on their driving population, while young male Middle Eastern drivers were stopped 12 times more often. In short, in the OHRC’s opinion, the findings are alarming and are consistent with racial profiling. As you are no doubt aware, the OHRC made recommendations on how the OPS should address racial profiling through a submission, as well as a deputation at an OPSB meeting in November, 2016.

Following the release of the TSRDCP report, the OPS committed to developing a plan to deal directly with the issue of racial profiling. We are concerned, however, that nearly one year later, the OPS has yet to publicly deliver a concrete and specific plan of action with respect to racial profiling.

I look forward to hearing about the status of the OPS’ plan of action on racial profiling. Consistent with our statutory mandate to report on the state of human rights in Ontario, we may make this letter and your response public.

Yours sincerely,

Renu Mandhane, B.A., J.D., LL.M.
Chief Commissioner
Ontario Human Rights Commission

cc:       OHRC Commissioners