Toronto Police Services vow to "do better"
The Anti-Racism Act, passed in June 2017, provided a framework for the Ontario government to identify and eliminate systemic racism and advance racial equity in the province. In 2019, the Ontario government directed all police services to begin collecting race-based data and incidents of reportable use of force.
This marked the beginning of a journey that is expected to lead to the kinds of extensive reform within the police services that Canadians have been calling for, especially since the killing of George Floyd in the United States sparked global awareness and outrage of the types of incidents that racialized communities have tried to get attention to for decades.
At an extended press conference today, Toronto Police Chief James Ramer announced the release of its own race-based data and admits the results have confirmed the prevalence of systemic discrimination within the organization. "Our own analysis of our own data from 2020 discloses that there is systemic racism in our policing." For this, he apologized "unreservedly", vowing "we must improve and we will do better."
A detailed account of the findings will be released when the info is presented to the Toronto Police Services Board on 22 June 2022.
An independent review of the Toronto Police Services report has concluded that Toronto's Race-based data collection (RBDC) strategy is "a model for other police services in Canada."
In what appeared to be a sincere message of determination to institute the extensive reforms necessary to ensure the police service better protects all communities and stops over-policing racialized groups, Chief Ramer was clear and unambiguous.
"The results have confirmed what, for many decades, racialized communities, particularly the black and indigenous communities have been telling us, that they are disproportionately over-policed. This data demonstrates the unfortunate realities of these experiences," said Ramer.
"The release of this data will cause pain for many […] we must improve and we will do better."
This was the recurring theme in Ramer's message. "As challenging as our findings are, this day represents an opportunity for us to be and to do better. In fact, because our legitimacy is tied to public trust, it tells us that we must be better." He took this opportunity to assure the public that "we are now fully engaged and we now have a way to measure the success of our efforts to eradicate racism."
Despite criticism that this is "too little and too late", others hear this unequivocal message of opportunity. There is a clear expectation that swift and decisive reform will permeate throughout the Toronto Police Services, throughout the province, and throughout the country.