On June 15, 2022, the Toronto Police Service acknowledged, based on its race-based data collection on use of force and strip searches, that it continues to disproportionately use force and other enforcement actions against Black communities, among others. The Toronto Police Service’s own analysis confirms the disproportionate use of force and enforcement actions against Black people that have also been identified by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). This is a positive step.
Chief Ramer’s acknowledgement confirmed what Black communities have said for decades: that Black communities are disproportionately subject to use of force and other enforcement actions. For Black communities, the real test will now be the extent that discriminatory policing is demonstrably reduced or eliminated.
The OHRC is working on the final report of its public inquiry into anti-Black racism by the Toronto Police Service. Our final report, which is forthcoming, will make relevant findings, as well as recommendations for change.
The OHRC has indicated its willingness to work in collaboration with the Toronto Police Services Board and the Toronto Police Service to effect real change. As well, Chief Ramer stated that the Service and the Board have committed themselves to work with the OHRC to make needed changes. This, too, is a positive step.
The OHRC provides essential human rights expertise to assist in identifying what has to be done by the police, and when commenting on (and where necessary, improving upon) the calls to action already developed by the police. Our report will address issues that were raised during the questions to Chief Ramer yesterday: ensuring true and transparent accountability for discriminatory policing, including at the individual officer level; effectively measuring the impact of recommendations on policing performance; and addressing both systemic racism and individual acts of racism that do not exist in isolation but co-exist and overlap.
Another important acknowledgement made by the police, based on its analysis, is a fact also well known to Black communities: even accounting for any differences in levels of police interactions across racial groups, Black community members are still disproportionately the victims of use of force.
The OHRC looks forward to its continuing, active participation in ensuring that racial discrimination in policing against Black people is rooted out.