It seems like old news, but this week the Ontario Human Rights Commission put out a report on race and police showing that a black person in Toronto is nearly 20 times more likely than a white person to be shot and killed by police.
The commission’s interim report said black people were over-represented in several types of violent police interactions, including use-of-force cases, shootings, deadly encounters and fatal shootings.
“The data is disturbing and raises serious concerns about racial discrimination in use of force,” according to the report released Monday.
“Our interim findings are disturbing and call for immediate action,” said Renu Mandhane, the OHRC’s chief commissioner.
The report, titled “A Collective Impact,” analyzed two periods of data from the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) between 2000 and 2006, and 2013 and 2017.
The SIU is Ontario’s police watchdog, which investigates police interactions involving serious injury, death, or allegations of sexual assault.
Despite the fact black people make up 8.8 per cent of Toronto’s population, the OHRC found they were “grossly overrepresented” in SIU investigations.
Out of the 187 cases analyzed from 2013 to 2017, black people made up:
• 25.4% of SIU investigations
• 28.2% of police use-of-force cases
• 36% of police shootings
• 61.5% of police use-of-force cases resulting in civilian death
• 70% of police shootings resulting in civilian death
The OHRC report also found that more white people were carrying weapons in police use of force cases, and that white people allegedly threatened or attacked police more often than black people.
The final version of the report is expected to include extensive internal data obtained from Toronto police, including lower level use-of-force incidents and instances of carding. The OHRC expects to release those findings in 2020.
In a joint response to the report, Toronto police and the Toronto Police Services Board said no organization is “immune from overt and implicit bias,” and that the force is actively working to address those issues.
“We have been working for several years to confront these challenges in a variety of ways and with a variety of partners. Indeed, our continued work will be shaped and informed by a wide number of steps already undertaken and underway.”
Meanwhile the OHRC is demanding Toronto police acknowledge the racial disparities and community experiences outlined in its report.
How all this will change the way police in Toronto police remains to be seen. Perhaps police will end up patrolling crime infested neighborhoods less frequently and lightly, this could perhaps end up causing a spike in violence and killings. This could then be blamed on police for not doing their job. Either way the police get blamed. They are really like the social janitor that ends up having to clean up the messes caused by successive government actions and decisions, family breakdowns and social issues.