Toronto Police Services Board and Toronto Police Service Response to the OHRC Inquiry Release of Second Interim Report
Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released its second interim report as part of its Inquiry into Racial Profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service; the Inquiry began in November 2017. The interim report includes two expert reports by Dr. Scot Wortley, the first is focused on use of force by the Toronto Police Service (“the Service”) and includes Service and non-Service data, and the second is an analysis of arrest and charge data from the Toronto Police Service.
The Board and Service view the report, and the Inquiry, as being vitally important to our continued efforts to critically examine and act to address anti-Black racism. We are committed to the change that Toronto’s Black, Indigenous and racialized communities deserve and that is supported in human rights law.
Board Chair Jim Hart said, “The Board takes seriously the significant work the OHRC has done, the need to consider it thoroughly, and to take action. We are committed to working with the OHRC, in partnership with the community to move forward together to directly address the issues we are facing.”
“The Toronto Police Service is committed to accountability and community input to ensure we foster a human-rights based approach to policing and combatting systemic racism. We are continuing to work on ensuring that equity and anti-racism are built into all of our policies and practices,” said Toronto Police Service Interim Chief Jim Ramer.
The conclusions of this report come at a pivotal time in history, as people around the world are engaged in a critical dialogue about anti-Black racism, policing, accountability and reform.
We are committed to learning and continuing to address the harmful impacts of systemic racism, working with impacted communities, to create the fundamental shifts in the aspects of policing that have disproportionate impact, and to enhance the practices that promote equity.
The Board and the Service recognize that the report’s conclusions demand reform and aggressive action, both in terms of immediate steps to address the issues raised, and long-term, comprehensive work to ensure that, in the future, there is no discrimination and unfairness based on race or other Code-protected grounds in policing services, in Toronto.
Since the time periods covered in this report, the Board and the Service have undertaken initial, concrete steps towards reform:
- Creation of an Equity, Inclusion and Human Rights Unit: The unit is staffed by subject-matter experts, guides the implementation of best practices in human rights and supports training delivered to Service Members. It strives for the delivery of bias-free services and offers guidance to Service Members to learn and practice diversity and inclusion. In May 2019, the Board approved the expansion of this Unit, and the funding for new staffing positions, subject-matter experts in the areas of equity, inclusion, human rights, research and community engagement.
- Race-Based Data Collection Policy Strategy: At its meeting of September 19, 2019, the Board unanimously approved a new Race-Based Data Collection, Analysis and Public Reporting Policy. This Policy cements the Board’s commitment to the elimination of racial bias and the promotion of equity, fairness and non-discriminatory police service delivery in Toronto. Subsequently, the Service began collecting and analyzing race-based data, with an immediate focus on data related to Use of Force, its public interactions and Members’ perceptions to identify systemic racism, develop mitigation strategies and inform our training.
- Race-Based Data In-Person Training: The Service partnered with international experts, the community and stakeholders to develop a multi-modal training curriculum for all Members that will include historic and systemic racialization, systemic racial profiling and better inform our Members and protect communities.
- Anti-Black Racism Training: Service Members are learning about implicit and explicit bias and lived experiences that affect the Black community in relation to systemic discrimination and policing. Implicit bias training is mandatory for Service Members.
This important work is an acknowledgement that transparency and accountability are critical in building and restoring community trust and engagement between the Service and the communities it serves. Much more work needs to be done in partnership with the communities that are most impacted.
The job of policing is extremely difficult, involving significant risk on a daily basis. Police officers take on the great responsibility of keeping communities protected and safe. This is no small task. By its nature, policing includes considerable discretion. When properly and equitably exercised, this discretion not only keeps the City safer, but enhances public trust in our service delivery. Conversely, when this discretion is exercised in a manner that allows bias to impact decision-making and influence outcomes, significant disparities result.
Central to ensuring that we learn from the report released today and continue to make the necessary changes is our commitment to working in partnership with Toronto’s communities in a respectful, collaborative, and meaningful process that incorporates the voices of the community, and highlights their lived experiences.
Both the Board and the Service have worked with the OHRC throughout the Inquiry, and continue to do so. The Board and Service also look forward to a partnership with the OHRC, and appreciate its recent offer to work together to address these important issues comprehensively, in a manner that supports an overarching human rights-based approach to policing.
The Board and Service are committed to considering the most effective, comprehensive and meaningful way to fashion solutions that will lead to substantive and fundamental change, and to work in collaboration with the OHRC, the City and our community partners.
We have been, and will continue to, listen to, and be guided by those with lived experience and others with ideas for how to move forward. We respectfully ask that those engaged in discussions about policing reform help us in this hard work, and understand that real change takes time, but real change can – and will – come.
Contact: Sandy Murray