Toronto Police Services Board and Toronto Police Service Joint Response, OHRC Inquiry Release, Final Report Toronto Police Services Board and Toronto Police Service Joint Response, OHRC Inquiry Release, Final Report
Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released its final report (the Report) in its public inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service (the Service), which began in November 2017.
The Board and Service welcome this Report, and view it as an important contribution to the work already underway in our continued efforts to proactively and decisively address anti-Black racism.
Throughout the OHRC’s work on its Inquiry, both the Board and the Service have demonstrated their commitment to the important mandate of the Inquiry by cooperating to the fullest extent possible. We provided a large volume of materials, along with access to our databases, made personnel available for interviews, and regularly engaged in dialogue and discussion to provide context and explain the significance of the information.
We’ve consistently made clear that the goal of the OHRC – to address anti-Black racism in all its forms - is also our goal. Our leadership has been steadfast, consistent, and determined in working towards this objective, and to do so in meaningful and practical ways that improve relationships with Black communities in Toronto.
Progress in this important area occurs within the context of a dynamic, transformational organization that is on a path of ambitious reform, as noted by the OHRC in its Report.
“Change is required at all levels, and in all parts, of our police service. It must include our leadership, our culture, our mechanisms of accountability, our training and education, and beyond. Change must also be co-developed, co-designed, co-delivered, and evaluated in meaningful and continued partnership with the members of Toronto’s Black communities,” said Chief of Police Myron Demkiw.
Board Chair Ann Morgan stated “we acknowledge the great toll it takes to come forward, to relay these intense and powerful experiences and their harmful impacts, and then to do it again and again, when it feels like no one is listening. We say today, we are listening. We are hearing you, whether you are a member of Toronto Black communities, or a member of our Service. We acknowledge that, while we may already be on a path of change, more change is necessary, and it must be sustained, comprehensive, and deep.”
Since the OHRC inquiry began in 2017, the Board and the Service have undertaken several significant and concrete steps towards reform.
One way the Service has been intentional about this transformational work is through the development of its comprehensive Equity Strategy. This multi-year undertaking was informed by internal and external community engagement, findings and recommendations provided by experts over the past decade, and closely and strategically aligns with the objectives of the OHRC Report.
Progress has also been made in the following areas:
- The Service and Board have implemented, or are implementing, many of the 81 Recommendations on Police Reform approved by the Board in August 2020. This includes the development, in consultation with the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit (CABR) and other experts, an anti-racism lens to be applied to all existing and future Service procedures.
- Anti-Black racism training developed in conjunction with CABR and the Board’s Anti-Racism Advisory Panel (ARAP) is a permanent component of annual training for all Service members.
- The Service has implemented its Race and Identity-based Data Strategy, intended to address systemic racism within the Toronto Police Service, as an iterative initiative that progressively expands with an increasingly broader impact. We support the OHRC’s direction that race-based data collection and reporting cover the full range of policing-civilian interactions.
- The Fair and Unbiased Policing Course is a mandatory five-day course that promotes equity, inclusion, and ethical law enforcement. Developed collaboratively with the community, topics addressed include: Ethical Policing, Peer Intervention, Race-Based Data, Anti-Black Racism, Anti-Indigenous Racism, and Mental Health and Addictions.
- The Service works collaboratively with the City on its SafeTO program. It also works with the Toronto Community Crisis Service, and the Gerstein Crisis Centre on providing alternate responses to Persons in Crisis, and is also focused on the expansion of the Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams (MCIT) program.
- The Service also completed reviews of use of force and strip search procedures, implementation of mandatory reviews of body-worn cameras, and mandatory training on Black and Indigenous experiences for all members.
- A list of members appearing before the Police Services Act Tribunal is posted on our website and decisions can be found on the OIPRD website. We are looking at ways to further add transparency and accountability to our disciplinary process in 2024, including posting tribunal decisions on our website.
“As a Board and as a Service, we acknowledge the reality and the impact of disparate treatment of Black people, both as it relates to Service members within our organization, as well as Torontonians. This is not only corroborated by the statistics collected through the pioneering Race and Identity-based Data Strategy and our member demographic data surveys, but also through our internal Equity & Inclusion Survey, and the community voices who have documented the pain, the trauma, and the frustration of this disproportional impact for many years," said Board Chair Ann Morgan.
Toronto Police Service CIO, Colin Stairs, added: “At the core of the Race and Identity-based Data Strategy is the Community Advisory Panel who prioritize and direct the work. This leading practice of transparent co-design is recognized as the gold standard. Together, we have focused on areas of greatest harm first, and are committed to continuous investigation and improvement.”
Work in this significant area also includes internal reform to address challenges in culture and internal racism allegations. In 2019, the Service and the Board engaged Deloitte to conduct a Workplace Well-Being, Harassment, and Discrimination Review of the Service, which led to a series of recommendations to create a more positive and inclusive workplace, many of which have been, or are in the process of, being implemented.
In addition, the Forum Research Equity and Inclusion Survey, conducted in 2021, focused on Service members’ experience and perception of the culture and climate in the Service. This survey found that a member’s experience and perception differed based on their socio-economic background, and that a majority of members expressed that the Service does offer an inclusive environment.
Chief Demkiw stated: “Both the Service and the Board are committed to learning, and to continuing this important work as we address the impacts of systemic racism. We readily accept that there is more and challenging work to be done, and we welcome the OHRC’s Report as an important resource for us as we continue this work. We will continue to work to identify how best to move forward within the spirit of the Report.”
Policing is premised and dependent on public trust. We know that, for many, in communities across Toronto, that trust has been eroded over many years, through generations, and through many experiences, which negatively affect the Service’s ability to effectively provide policing services to all Torontonians. We also note that the job of the police is an extremely difficult, challenging and dynamic one. Our members take pride in their role as police officers and their dedicated service to this city. They strive to be professional and fair in all they do.
We now begin the important work of carefully reviewing the recommendations contained in the Report, a task we will undertake in collaboration with the OHRC, as well as in consultation with the Board’s Anti-Racism Advisory Panel, and other community stakeholders. Recommendations will be reviewed in terms of legal compliance, operational feasibility, and budgetary impact to determine if and how each can be implemented.
As noted above, there are a number of key recommendations we have already implemented, or where implementation is underway and continuing.
For there to be productive and lasting solutions, other institutions, organizations and levels of government will need to collaborate with us in addressing our shared goal of eliminating anti-Black racism and discrimination in all that the Service does. The Service and the Board have been working towards that goal, and we will continue to do so, in meaningful and sustained collaboration with our communities.
The Board and the Service aim to provide an update on this work at the Board’s March 2024 meeting.