toronto police racism

Anger swells as Toronto Police Chief apologizes for years of systemic racism on the force

Chief of Police James Ramer addressed the media on Wednesday morning, delivering a brutally honest apology in response to the Toronto Police Service's (TPS) 2020 Race-Based Data Collection Strategy findings, admitting the frankly obvious fact that profiling and discrimination against members of racialized communities are a systemic issue on the force.

The Toronto Police and all law enforcement services in Ontario were directed to begin collecting race-based data in instances of reportable use of force back in 2019, leading the TPS Board to approve a "Race-Based Data Collection, Analysis and Public Reporting" policy with an aim to identify a problem that was already plainly obvious to even the most casual observer.

The release of the Toronto Police Service's 2020 Race-Based Data Collection (RBDC) Strategy findings reads like a study commissioned to determine if the sky is in fact blue, confirming that racialized communities were overrepresented in strip searches, the use of force, and other areas.

Despite only making up about 10 per cent of Toronto's population in 2020 during the study period, members of the Black community were over two times as likely to be stopped by police, and accounted for a staggering 22 per cent of what police describe as "enforcement actions."

Members of the Black community were found 1.6 times more likely to be subjected to the use of force by police, Latino populations 1.5 times, and Middle Eastern demographics by 1.2 times. There are many more troubling statistics available in the report, but this 230 per cent figure is truly shocking.

"The results have confirmed what for many decades, racialized communities, particularly the Black and Indigenous communities have been telling us. that they are disproportionately overpoliced," said Ramer.

"This data demonstrates the unfortunate reality of those experiences."

"As an organization, we have not done enough to ensure that every person in our city received fair and unbiased policing, and for this, as Chief of Police and on behalf of the service, I am sorry, and I apologize unreservedly."

"We must improve, and we will do better."

In the days leading up to the press conference, Chief Ramer warned that there would be challenging days ahead for officers as the truth came to light, though some weren't feeling too sympathetic.

Many just don't see these methods changing overnight, while others are annoyed to see the release of data confirm what pretty much everyone has known about policing practices for generations.

Chief Ramer has briefed the media and the public on the next steps in tackling systemic racism in policing, but it's apparent that this issue is engrained in police culture and will need extensive reshaping before any meaningful change can occur.

Lead photo by

Toronto Police Service

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