Racial profiling, budget concerns Ottawa top police board meeting

Not a particularly impressive discussion by the Ottawa Police Board on racial profiling:

Attention then quickly turned to the results of a two-year race data project mandated by a settlement with the Ontario Human Rights Commissions, which were revealed last month.

Data from traffic stops, collected by Ottawa police officers and analyzed by a team of researchers, shows Middle Eastern-looking people are 3.3 times more likely to be pulled over than their percentage of the population, while black-looking people are 2.3 times more likely to be pulled over than their percentage of the population.

The project was the result of a racial-profiling complaint lodged by then-18-year-old Chad Aiken, who said he was pulled over because he was black. Both the researchers that conducted the study and Chief Charles Bordeleau said the results didn’t “prove” racial profiling by officers, which the human rights commissioner took exception to at Monday’s meeting.

“All too often when people like Mr. Aiken come forward to speak about racial discrimination, they are dismissed as being overly sensitive or not having enough proof that their experience is systemic — the ‘a few bad apples’ defence,” Renu Mandhane told the board.

“And that’s why we are disappointed by recent comments that the OPS data does not prove racial profiling. Especially when considered together with the personal accounts that led to the data being collected in the first place, the findings are alarming, are entirely consistent with racial profiling, and cannot and should not be easily explained away.”

Mandhane says she wants to specifically hear from the force that the data is consistent with racial profiling, and says acknowledging it is the first step to fixing it.

Bordeleau said he believes “the service has actually stepped up to the plate and done a lot of things.” He pointed to the settlement-mandated study being the first of its kind in the country. “I want to make it clear that I’ve never denied the existence of racial profiling. I said before that racial profiling exists in society, it exists in policing and that it has no place in either.”

Mandhane also called on the force and the board to make policies to eliminate discrimination, have independent monitoring and accountability bodies, and discipline officers who engage in discrimination.

Board chair Coun. Eli El-Chantiry told Mandhane that the board has committed “significant” public resources to measure how police treat people of different racial groups. “The study showed that there was a problem and we have committed to working with our police service to fix it.”

The board also heard from Danardo Jones, legal director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, who also wanted the force to call the results racial profiling and voiced concern about including only data from traffic stops in the study. Bordeleau said it was “unfortunate that four years ago when we reached out the ACLC, and numerous times since that, that you didn’t take us up on the offer to participate (in the report).”

Source: Ottawa Citizen | Latest Breaking News | Business | Sports | Canada …

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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