Toronto police chief to apologize to black community as force uncovers race-based data: sources
Toronto Police Chief James Ramer plans to apologize to the city’s black community, CBC News has learned, as the force prepares to pull back the curtain on data that will reveal the extent to which race played a role in his use of force and strip searches.
Two sources with knowledge of the situation said Ramer, the interim Toronto chief, would issue a formal apology at a press conference Wednesday morning.
Ramer’s apology comes as the service prepares to unveil data on the overrepresentation of specific communities in policing – nearly three years after it was first commissioned by the Ontario government to document the data based on race in use of force incidents.
The data collection began amid widespread protests against police brutality that were sparked in the United States by the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Around the same time in Toronto, questions swirled about the role race may have played in the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet – a young black woman who died from a Toronto balcony after her family called 911 for assistance.
The data, some of which was shared with media before publication, remains embargoed until 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday.
Professor questions the value of police apologies
Sam Tecle, an assistant professor of sociology at Metropolitan University of Toronto and a member of the group, Jane-Finch Action against Poverty, told CBC News he expects the data to be “just the tip of the line.” iceberg of the kinds of interactions that really frame how Toronto police largely treat black people.”
Tecle, who grew up in the Jane-Finch neighborhood, said he questions the value of police apologies.
“I don’t know what an apology does, other than political PR,” he said.
“I have never seen a public service, institution or body given so many chances,” Tecle said, pointing out that the police force represents the largest item in the operating budget of 13.5 billion dollars from the city.
“I wonder what data or what research we might uncover that might finally highlight the kind of public awareness that the police need to engage in, or are we, as a city, as a province, in As a country, okay with some level of harm to marginalized communities? I am constantly questioning that.
Beyond the apologies, Tecle thinks it’s worth asking whether the police are the right tool to keep communities safe and how many resources should be allocated to it. He says politicians also need to ask the police a lot more when it comes to accountability.
“It seems they are very lukewarm in their criticism of policing in order to help us deeply question the use of this force as a service, which… is not the case for black people, for Indigenous people, for people of color, for non-binary people,” Tecle said.
“What we’re asking is, ‘Am I going to survive this interaction?'”
Objective “to eliminate systemic racism”
The Toronto Police’s race-based data collection policy was created with the goal of “identifying, measuring and ultimately eliminating systemic racism,” police said in a statement before publication. .
The policy followed a key recommendation from a 2018 Interim Report on Race and Policing of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). The report found that a black person in Toronto was nearly 20 times more likely than a white person to be shot by police.
It also came after a 2019 report by Court of Appeals judge Michael Tulloch on random street checks, in which the Ontario judge said the practice only generates “poor intelligence” and keeps some communities away from the police.
After being mandated to collect race-based data on the use of force, the force says it ‘has gone further than expected’ and has pledged to also collect race-based data on searches bare. This data collection began in January 2020.