Interim Toronto Police Chief James Ramer made his statements and answered questions yesterday on their race-based data and the next steps forward. The police chief confessed to the over-policing of Blacks and Indigenous peoples of Toronto. At news conference, he said: “I am sorry and I apologize unreservedly.” The data served to prove the allegations true and the chief mentioned that the Trauma Police Services’ job will serve to eliminate this problem. “You deserve better and our members deserve better” he said.
The 2020 data analysis by the police disclosed a systemic discrimination in their policing of ‘racialized’ people, particularly those from the Black community. Members of this community are 2.2 times more likely to experience an enforcement interaction with officers and 1.6 times more likely to experience force once involved in an enforcement action. This reality impacts their life, mental health and trust in policing.
Systemic bias on the Indigenous community was also acknowledged. This has left these people mistrusting of the police, limiting their ability to become true partners in community safety. The community will need to inform the police when they are not policing fairly. Apologies alone are not sufficient, according to the Police Chief.
Use of force and strip searches are not the only problems. There are other disparities. More data analysis and gathering to find other forms systemic racism has to be addressed. Persistence by the advisory bodies, communities and the police force in stemming this rising epidemic is necessary. Data collecting has to have an implementation of policies. Race-based Data Community Advisory Panel, Policing Community Engagement Review, Boards Anti-racism Advisory Panel and Association of Black Law Enforcers allneed to keep the Police accountable.
The police force has to train their officers to deal with the public in a more humane way.
According to the police chief, 38 recommendations are to be implemented. Other reform initiatives currently underway include the implementation of the Boards’ 81 recommendations on police reform, 151 recommendations from Justice Epstein’s review and a soon to be launched equity strategy. With all these they plan to keep the community safe. Everything is on their website and open to review by the public.
The equity strategy in the city of Toronto should bring forth a bias-free community as everyone commits to a better society. This is only the beginning as the chief states that they are now better equipped to implement the changes. A real and durable change will begin to form if we continue to engage in the community and be open to reform. No matter who is the police chief, these reforms must be adhered to in order to succeed. Redoubling our efforts to bring about change must be a commitment and priority. They could not fix what they could not measure according to Ramer. Now they are fully engaged and have the means to measure and share their progress with the community. Only time will tell if these measures will transform awareness into lasting change in the police force.