One in five Toronto police officers is a member of a racial minority–a near doubling in under a decade, according to police employment statistics.
Mark Pugash, a spokesman for Toronto Police Services, said yesterday the numbers reflect a concerted effort over the last decade to welcome new people into the service.
“It’s about ensuring that the service is more reflective of the city that we serve,” he said. “We know that there’s a long way to go but what is important, I think, is that the numbers are moving very much in the right direction.”
Of the 5,500 police officers in the city, 18.6% or 1,068 members are representatives of racial minorities, up from 16.9% in 2007 and 9.5% in 2000.
Almost 22% of police constables hail from minority communities.
The percentage of racial minorities in the service’s civilian arm is even higher–32.2%–because the staff tends to turn over more quickly than in the rest of the service, Pugash said.
“Once people join as police officers, they tend to spend a minimum of 30 years,” he said.
Women are 17.5% of the force, an increase of about 5% since the year 2000.
Female officers make up 18.2% of the detectives and 14.1% of senior brass.
Currently, women head up the homicide, fraud and sex assault units.
There are only 63 officers, or 1.1% of the service, of aboriginal background, but none hold a rank higher than sergeant. But Pugash said the service is constantly reaching out to aboriginals, women, racial groups and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities.
While these people are still under-represented, employment figures show definite improvement with every new class of recruits, Pugash said.