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Ottawa Police agree to collect race-based data

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May 4, 2012

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For immediate publication

Toronto - A settlement between the Ottawa Police Services Board and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) means Ottawa Police Services (OPS) will begin to collect race-based data on traffic stops by OPS officers.

The settlement followed a human rights complaint by Ottawa resident Chad Aiken. In 2005, Mr. Aiken was pulled over by OPS officers while driving his mother’s Mercedes-Benz. In a complaint against the police, Mr. Aiken alleged he had been stopped because he was African Canadian. He was 18 at the time of the incident.

A partial settlement was reached between the parties in the summer of 2010. This most recent settlement focuses on using data collection as a way to help provide bias-free police services. The OPSB and the OHRC have agreed the data will be used in a way that respects Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The settlement requires the OPS to collect data for a minimum two year period, starting within 12 months. At the end of two years, the OPS will share the collected information with the OHRC. The OHRC will conduct an analysis on the data and may make recommendations.

Race-based data collection related to police stops is required by law in the U.K. and is common throughout the U.S. It is recognized as one of the major tools available to help police services address allegations of racial profiling around the world. Police services in Canada can benefit by using this tool.

“This is another exciting step forward in our work with Ontario’s police services and is truly groundbreaking,” said Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner of the OHRC. “Data collection allows organizations to measure what they do and then manage appropriately. People in every community need to feel confident in their police services. And collecting data can help police operate with transparency so that they can maintain trust in the communities they serve”. The OHRC recently completed a three year Charter with the Toronto Police Service and is currently working with the Windsor Police on a similar project.

The OHRC and the Ottawa Police Services Board agreed that data collection will be important in helping to address concerns and perceptions in minority communities. The settlement calls for significant consultation with community partners.

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Pascale Demers
Communications Officer (Bilingual)
Communications and Issues Management
(416) 314-3579