A statement on race-based data from the Toronto Police Association

Toronto Police Association

TORONTO, June 15, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today the Service released the results of its race-based data collection regarding the use of force and strip searches by our members. Findings will be presented at the Toronto Police Services Board meeting on June 22, 2022.

While these two sets of data cannot be disputed, the results are disappointing and leave more questions than answers, including why the disparities exist or what factors could have led to a meeting with the police in the first place. Social failures tend to fall at the feet of agents watching where and when they are directed. Their actions, often split-second decisions, are then scrutinized with little regard for organizational shortcomings that occurred long before the interaction with a police officer.

What the data tells us is that over 90% of all use of force incidents were the result of a reactive police encounter, meaning our officers responded to a call for service, over half being violent service calls. While some benchmarks may have been applied, the data does not reflect the totality of each engagement, as no context is given to the circumstances or individual agents they faced.

Members of the Toronto Police Association exercise the heaviest oversight of any profession in the country. When force is used, including each of the 949 incidents analyzed for this report, the matter is reviewed by a supervisor, the unit commander and the Toronto Police College. If inappropriate force was identified, numerous oversight bodies, including Professional Standards, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and the Special Investigations Unit, would conduct a review and members, as appropriate, would be held responsible.

Without digging into this data, it is very difficult to determine the best way forward. To be clear, the Toronto Police Association condemns all forms of racism, in all aspects of policing, and so do our members. Our members are diverse, reflect the communities we serve, and do their best in very difficult and often dangerous situations. They are open to changes that will make their jobs safer and result in fair and equitable interactions with our communities.

Our members are equipped with technology such as cameras in booking rooms, interrogation rooms, police vehicles and body-worn cameras, which has allowed their interactions with the public to be recorded at virtually every moment. .

Our members have participated and will continue to participate in training, from de-escalation training that reduces the requirement to use force, to training that focuses on individual biases.

But much remains to be done, and we call on the Service to accelerate various technology-enabled initiatives that will result in more in-depth data collection. Police-community interactions are complex, based on multiple factors, and more data is clearly needed to gain a full understanding of the context in which police operate daily.

In the meantime, the TPA will continue to advocate for meaningful changes that improve member and community safety, and further build confidence in policing. We will do our part to support our members and ensure that the Service sets them up for success, but other systems and institutions must also do their part.

For more information:

Meaghan Gray
Head of Communications

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