Toronto Police officer

Systemic Discrimination in Toronto Policing. Really?!

Toronto Police Services released its’ findings on race-based data collection on June 15, 2022. Data highlights the disturbing reality that Toronto police are much more likely to use force against Black, Indigenous and racialized people than White residents.

The devastating data shows racial disparities across most offence types and call types. The report found that Black, Indigenous, Middle Eastern and Asian Torontonians were over-represented in use-of-force incidents and strip searches. The study also documented that police were more likely to use force against Black people, even when they were not perceived to possess any weapons. 

For Across Boundaries these findings are no surprise; they just confirmed what we and Black and racialized communities have been saying all along. “Indigenous, Black, and racialized people have had longstanding concerns about being disproportionately targeted by police,” says Aseefa Sarang, Across Boundaries’ Executive Director. “While collecting and sharing race-based statistics is a step in the right direction, it is nowhere near where we need to be for the safety and security of our communities. We will closely monitor what next steps are taken, and expect next year’s data outcomes to be significantly different. Every data point in this report is a human life that was negatively impacted.” 

The race-based findings are so offensive that Police Chief James Ramer offered an “apology” to the city’s Black community. “There is systemic discrimination in our policing,” he said. However, in the same press conference, Ramer stated that the findings would not be used to identify “individual acts of racism” by officers. The Chief noted that those are instances of misconduct, and there are other ways for the force to address them. 

Such statements continue to raise concerns about whether the Toronto Police force will change its behaviour. One of the most important recommendations Across Boundaries had put forth in the Andrew Loku Inquest was recommendation #12 asking for a change in the culture of the organization. “It is change in the organizational culture that will change behaviours on the front line,” Sarang reminds. ‘We don’t need apologies from Toronto Police Services; we need change that starts at the highest levels of the organization’s systems and processes that govern police service delivery, and translates to eliminating anti-Black racism and anti-Indigenous racism at the individual officer level. Anything less will not do”.