By Gerald V. Paul
Anthony Morgan, policy and research lawyer at the African Canadian Legal Clinic (ACLC), told The Camera on Tuesday, “We want to see race-based data collected and disseminated by the SIU.”
But Special Investigations Unit (SIU) spokeswoman Monica Hudon said that “We currently do not keep these types of statistics as we do not believe they would advance how we conduct our investigations.”
The SIU’s annual report released on Monday includes plenty of other statistics from police interactions, including percentage of complainants by gender and a breakdown of investigations by area.
Morgan said there is an overrepresentation of police use of force and lethal force. “Like carding, we are having this conversation because the (Toronto) Star got the data.”
Consideration of compiling race-based data is not without precedent. In February, Ontario Children’s Minister Tracy MacCharles said she will look at having all children’s aid societies in the province collect race-based data on kids in their care. And in 2012, two Ontario criminologists said Canadian police departments should collect race-based data.
“Information on race is essential for the equitable provision of policing services and for the development of police policy,” Owusu-Bempah said on UofT’s website.
Morgan noted that several reports and programs on race-based data have been issued and developed. These include the report of the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System, Ontario Human Rights Commission report on racial profiling, Paying the Price, and the report of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Anti Black Racism in Canada.
The federal government also collects such statistics for its employment equity program which covers all federal departments, agencies and crown corporations and is a requirement for organizations providing contracted services to the government.
The SIU was established in 1990. In the mid 1980’s, a series of interactions involving police and youth from visible minority groups raised concerns about the manner in which police shootings were handled.
Police services investigated themselves or in some instances, another police service conducted the investigation. Public sentiment was that such internal investigations lacked objectivity.