Toronto Police Warns Officers: Brace for ‘Challenging’ Reaction to New Race-Based Data on Force, Strip Searches
Wendy Gillis, Toronto Star, June 14, 2022
On the eve of the release of race-based statistics on police officer use of force and strip-searching — findings that “reaffirm the existence of systemic racism” within the force — Toronto police is warning its employees that “challenging” days are ahead.
Two major Toronto police reports are set to be released Wednesday: race-based statistics on the use of force and strip-searching by officers, and the results of an external review into workplace harassment within the force.
In an internal message sent Saturday and obtained by the Star, Toronto police informed its employees that the race-based data will prompt discussion “about the extent to which systemic racism has led to differential treatment of racial groups by our service.”
The weeks that follow “will be challenging,” police said, and the results will “lead some people to question the hard work you do every day,” the internal police message said.
“Our members will be supported and our public comments will emphasize that this exercise is about systemic racism within systems and processes and not about overt racism by our members,” the internal message said.
The release of the use of force data, which was mandated by the province in 2019, comes after two groundbreaking reports by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) that found Black Torontonians were “grossly overrepresented” in cases in which police have used force.
The findings were especially true when it came to fatal shootings — between 2013 and 2017, a Black person was nearly 20 times more likely than a white person to be fatally shot by Toronto police.
Further data analysis by the OHRC found Black people were five times more likely than white people to be subjected to lower-level physical force, causing injuries such as severe bruises or lacerations, during the same time period.