Human rights chief praises police oversight report’s focus on race and diversity

It all starts with data:

The provincial government’s commitment Thursday to require police watchdogs to collect race-based statistics is evidence Ontario is in “a very unique moment” when it comes to recognizing the need for such data, says Ontario’s chief human rights commissioner.

One day after the release of Ontario Justice Michael Tulloch’s broad-ranging report on police oversight in Ontario, Renu Mandhane said the judge’s work provides a detailed road map to rebuild trust between community and police oversight agencies at a time of “historic levels of distrust.”

Shortly after the release of Tulloch’s 129 recommendations — many aimed at increasing transparency within the police watchdogs — Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi committed to act on the key recommendation that civilian oversight bodies, including the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), begin collecting demographic data such as statistics on race, ethnicity and indigenous status.

Currently, none of Ontario’s civilian watchdogs — the SIU, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) — collect statistics on race or any demographic data on religion, age, mental health status, disability, or indigenous status of complainants and alleged victims.

That move shows “the conversation has shifted in terms of the collection of data,” Mandhane said in an interview Friday, but stressed the importance of ensuring the data is both collected and then publicly reported; Tulloch recommended an advisory board be established to develop “best practices on the collection, management, and analysis of relevant demographic data.”

“There needs to be real thought about who is going to receive the data and making sure they have the resources to effectively analyze the data,” Mandhane said.

Tulloch’s race-based statistics recommendation was one of several praised by rights groups and advocates, who appreciated the emphasis placed on diversity, cultural training and the focus on indigenous communities. The report states Ontario’s oversight bodies must be “both socially and culturally competent.”

During consultations with First Nations communities in particular, Tulloch said there was consensus that the oversight bodies “lack cultural sensitivity and often are disrespectful of Indigenous peoples.” During consultations, he was told of cases where an SIU investigator arrived in a First Nations community following an incident, spoke briefly with someone from the community, and had no further contact.

“Equally troubling, some First Nations communities in the north described having to wait days for SIU investigators to arrive on scene. In some cases, matters were closed without talking to members of the community and the leadership,” the report states.

To begin to remedy fraught relationships, Tulloch recommended mandatory social and cultural competency training for watchdog staff — developed and delivered in partnership with the communities they serve.

The report also says Ontario’s police watchdogs should reflect their diverse communities, meaning the oversight bodies must take initiatives to hire people from communities currently under-represented within the organizations.

“This includes all individuals at the oversight bodies: the directors, the investigators, the adjudicators, and the staff dedicated towards outreach, communications, administration, affected persons services, and so forth,” the report states.

The move toward greater diversity is long overdue, said Julian Falconer, a Toronto lawyer who has represented many families of people killed by police and who also practices in Thunder Bay.

In his submission to Tulloch during the review process, he says he was “quite blunt” about the lack of diversity when it comes to the director of the SIU.

Source: Human rights chief praises police oversight report’s focus on race and diversity | Toronto Star

How will we know when police have earned their way back to Toronto Pride?: Robyn Urback

Valid questions by Robyn Urback:

If the issue is more so about visibility, as some BLM supporters say, noting that police are still welcome to participate in Pride as long as they’re not wearing their uniforms, then perhaps Pride should consider also asking clergymen not to wear their collars during marches and parades.

The religious leaders who choose to join in on Pride activities — such as those from the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto — are obviously open, welcoming and inclusive, though some Pride-goers might find the symbols triggering because of the many religious groups and institutions that are not so open, welcoming and inclusive.

Toronto Pride Parade Mark Saunders

Police Chief Mark Saunders greets the crowd during Toronto’s Pride parade in 2015. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

But if we accept that the police are being singled out because of the severity of their brutality against Canada’s black and LGBT communities — both past and present — which is a defensible position, then perhaps it would be prudent for BLM to define some sort of tangible criteria delineating how, and when, and by what measure police conduct would be acceptable enough for them to participate in the marches again.

Revoking the ban

At what point will police be distant enough from their past, like the Canadian Forces, innocuous enough in their present, like the education system, and adequately inoffensive in their image, like religious leaders, to once again be able to show their solidarity?

If we accept the notion that individuals have to carry misdeeds of the people before them — and the reputations of the worst among them — then it makes sense to prohibit any uniformed officer from participating in Pride activities.

But if we recognize that people are more than simply facets of the groups to which they belong, we’d know better than to paint them all with the same brush.

Source: How will we know when police have earned their way back to Toronto Pride?: Robyn Urback – CBC News | Opinion

US: Low-Income PoCs Still Don’t Trust The Police, But Would Work With Them : NPR

Interesting study with identifying the problem (lack of trust) and opportunity (willing to work together):

While trying to catch a bus to school, Emilio Mayfield, 16, jaywalked. When he didn’t comply with a police officer’s command to get out of the bus lane, a scuffle ensued. Mayfield was struck in the face with a baton and arrested by nine Stockton, Cal. police officers. The arrest was captured on video by a bystander and the video went viral.

A police officer responding to a domestic violence call shot Jamar Clark, 24, in the head as he lay on the ground. He died the next day, sparking weeks of protests. A Minneapolis Police Department internal investigation later cleared the two officers involved in the shooting of any wrongdoing.

Devon Davis crashed his car and was running away from cops when they caught up to him. A witness says officers severely beat Davis in the legs before carrying him away. Police assert that Davis injured his legs in the car crash. Davis sued the city of Pittsburgh and six police officers.

These incidents — which all took place in 2015 — may have been on the minds of residents in these cities when they were asked to participate in a study of their views on the police.

The study, released Wednesday, reveals that while the majority of residents in high-crime, high-poverty areas have a negative view of the police, they also have great respect for the law and are willing to work with law enforcement to make communities safer.

The majority of residents surveyed hold a very negative impression of the police. Less than a third believe that the police respect people’s rights, “treat people with dignity and respect,” and “make fair and impartial decisions in the cases they deal with.” More than half of residents say that “police officers will treat you differently because of your race/ethnicity” and that officers act “based on personal prejudices and biases.” Survey respondents identified as black (66 percent), white (12 percent), and Latino or Hispanic (11 percent). The majority are female (59 percent). Most respondents live in extreme poverty, reporting a total annual income of less than $20,000.

Residents also expressed a firm belief in the law and a willingness to partner with police to improve community safety. Seven in 10 respondents believe that the “law should be strictly obeyed” and that laws benefit the community. More than half agree with the statement “the laws in your community are consistent with your own intuitions about what is right and just.”

And while only 38 percent of respondents say that they feel safe around the police or find them trustworthy (30 percent), they also say they would work with police. More than half are willing to attend a community meeting with police and close to half say they would volunteer their time to help the police solve a crime or find a suspect.low-income_pocs_still_don_t_trust_the_police__but_would_work_with_them___code_switch___npr

The Urban Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., conducted the study in partnership with local organizations in six cities: Birmingham, Alabama; Fort Worth, Texas; Gary, Indiana; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Stockton, California. The focus on households located in the highest crime, lowest income areas — with predominantly residents of color — is a marked departure from most surveys about perception of law enforcement which sample the general population.

Using data from the U.S. Census and crime data provided by police departments in the six cities, researchers identified the areas with the highest concentrations of crime and poverty in each city. Focusing their research in this way allowed them to survey the “people who live in the areas where trust may be weakest, but who may benefit the most from increases in public safety.”

“General population surveys often mask differences between groups,” the authors said. “Those who are white and more affluent are the most likely to respond to general population surveys and tend to have relatively favorable views of the police.” Researchers conducted surveys in person, instead of using the more common methods of mail or phone because residents who are low income, have less education, or are racial or linguistic minorities tend to be underrepresented in phone and mail surveys.

Black people 3 times more likely to be street checked in Halifax, police say

Not surprisingly but still alarming and similar data to that of other cities such as Toronto:

Ashley Taylor tenses up every time he sees a police cruiser because he knows what could be coming next.

“Being pulled over by the police for me,” the Nova Scotia resident said, taking a pause, “it’s normal.”

Taylor, 42, estimates he has been stopped by police an average of three times a year. The student support worker at Dartmouth High School in said it usually happens on his drive to work.

“Is it racial profiling? Possibly.”

He’s not surprised to hear a CBC News Investigation finding that Halifax police are more likely to stop and check people who are black.

In fact, according to information released by Halifax Regional Police, black people are three times more likely to be the subject of a so-called street check than white individuals.

Graphic

Halifax Regional Police began recording data of street checks in 2005. (CBC)

Street checks are used to “look at individuals who are doing suspicious activity,” said police Chief Jean-Michel Blais.

Source: Black people 3 times more likely to be street checked in Halifax, police say – Nova Scotia – CBC News

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 …

Québec met fin à une discrimination | Les étudiants autochtones devaient acquitter une note de 17 500$ pour une formation offerte gratuitement aux minorités culturelles

Seems like reducing the costs to encourage and facilitate more indigenous and visible minority police makes sense, and ensuring comparable incentives to address representation gaps (SVPM has only 6.7 percent visible minority police officers, compared to the 20 percent of its population):

Tout étudiant québécois, autochtone ou non, peut emprunter la voie normale et obtenir un diplôme d’études collégiales (DEC) en techniques policières en trois ans sans avoir à assumer des droits de scolarité. Mais le programme, très couru, est fortement contingenté. En pratique, seul le programme d’AEC réservé aux autochtones, une voie rapide pour des étudiants qui, bien souvent, n’ont pas fréquenté le cégep, peut leur permettre d’accéder à l’ENPQ afin de devenir policiers et poursuivre une carrière dans une force autochtone ou une autre.

Les autochtones ne sont pas les seuls à avoir accès à cette voie rapide. Il existe un autre programme d’AEC en techniques policières, au cégep de Maisonneuve, pour les étudiants issus des communautés culturelles. La Sûreté du Québec et le Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) embauchent ces diplômés afin que la composition de leurs effectifs soit plus représentative. Or, tandis que les autochtones paient le gros prix, l’AEC en techniques policières réservée aux étudiants des communautés culturelles est gratuit.

À l’ENPQ, les autochtones continuent toutefois de payer le gros prix par rapport aux autres étudiants. Au lieu de 27 000 $, les étudiants non autochtones assument des droits de scolarité d’environ 8000 $.

Au cégep d’Alma, 14 étudiants autochtones suivent les cours de l’AEC en techniques policières. Pour trois d’entre eux, leur conseil de bande a payé la totalité des droits de scolarité. Deux autres ont reçu de 2000 $ à 3000 $, tandis que neuf étudiants ont dû se débrouiller autrement, s’adressant à leur famille et contractant un prêt auprès d’une institution financière, a indiqué Patrick Girard.

Selon lui, les étudiants autochtones font les frais d’une partie de bras de fer entre Ottawa, qui a créé le programme des services de police des Premières Nations en 1991, Québec et les Premières Nations. Le gouvernement fédéral assume 52 % de la note et Québec, le reste. Or en 2012, le gouvernement Harper a décidé de geler sa contribution, ce qui a depuis exercé d’importantes pressions sur les budgets des corps de police autochtones aux prises avec un alourdissement de leur charge de travail.

La situation est différente pour les étudiants autochtones qui parlent anglais. C’est au collège Ellis, une institution privée sise à Drummondville, que l’AEC leur est offerte à un coût variant entre 18 000 $ et 20 000 $. Selon le coordonnateur du programme, Daniel Guillemette, ce sont essentiellement des Cris et des Inuits qui suivent la formation. Or leurs gouvernements assument tous les frais, a-t-il précisé. Cris et Inuits ne dépendent pas du programme fédéral : ils peuvent compter sur la Convention de la Baie-James.

Depuis qu’Ottawa a décidé de geler son financement, l’Assemblée des Premières Nations du Québec et du Labrador (APNQL) se plaint du sous-financement des corps policiers autochtones au Québec. Certaines communautés ont menacé de fermer leur service de police pour forcer la Sûreté du Québec (SQ) à prendre la relève.

En 2015, il existait au Québec 20 corps policiers autochtones qui desservaient 44 communautés et comptaient 401 policiers, selon les données citées par Patrick Girard. De son côté, la SQ emploie un petit nombre de policiers autochtones : ils étaient 27 en 2015, un de plus que deux ans auparavant.

Source: Québec met fin à une discrimination | Le Devoir

Vancouver police launch big recruitment drive to reflect city’s diversity

Article would benefit from including the current diversity numbers (which Vancouver currently does not publish these):

Vancouver is launching the largest police recruiting drive in almost a decade, and the key word for this new class of officers will be diversity, officials said.

Deputy Chief Steve Rai said the police force wants hire 85 new officers by next spring, the largest recruiting figure since the pre-Olympics effort in 2008 and more than twice the size of a normal recruiting class.

Add in 20 recruits sworn in on Thursday, and that’s an addition of more than 100 officers to a police service of 1,400 — a big injection of new blood.

While the VPD has no quotas for members from specific communities, Rai said it is crucial that the police department reflects the multicultural community that it serves. With that in mind, VDP has been stepping up its outreach to cultural communities, hoping it will lead to a multicultural mix of recruits.

“You look at what happens when your police force don’t reflect the community, and you only have to look south of the border,” he said. “You see people feeling it’s ‘us-against-them,’ and there’s a lack of trust.

 “It’s about acquiring, building and maintaining public trust … We are all in this together, so it starts with citizens seeing their police forces reflecting of them and the community. It has to reflect the fact it’s not ‘us-against-them,’ but ‘we.’”

According to the 2011 census, Vancouver has 18 languages identified as “most spoken at home” by more than 1,000 residents each. Besides English, the most spoken language at home for 98,855 Vancouverites were Chinese languages. Punjabi (10,500), Tagalog (9,345), Vietnamese (7,475), Korean (5,445) and Spanish (5,245) all topped 5,000 speakers.

Rai admits that there remains a stigma in some communities about policing, stemming from experiences and perceptions of police in other countries. He said the VPD is trying to break down the walls by attending as many community events as possible, and that as the second-generation acclimatizes to Canadian culture, the acceptance level has correspondingly risen.

“I know a lot of parents who aren’t supportive of their kids to go into policing because of the stigma that exists in their countries of origin,” Rai said. “But as time passes, barriers come down. You build that trust by talking to people and being sincere.

“We understand we have to flexible with changing society norms, and we want to make sure we hire the best,” he added. “We will mentor you to be successful, no matter what your background is. I’m a 25-year member, and there’s not one day that I’ve ever regretted my decision to become a police officer. The profession sells itself.”

Source: Vancouver police launch big recruitment drive to reflect city’s diversity | Vancouver Sun

Meanwhile:

The Vancouver Police Department says street checks are not on the rise, two weeks after the police complaint commissioner expressed concern about the department’s use of the practice.

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, a provincial body that oversees complaints involving municipal police, in a report late last month cited “an increasing trend in complaint allegations involving the police practice of conducting street checks.” The report, however, did not provide a total.

Street checks, or carding, can refer to stopping individuals to gather information without a reasonable suspicion of an offence. The issue has drawn significant attention in Ontario, where the provincial government announced regulations restricting carding in March after complaints were raised about privacy violations and police were accused of disproportionately targeting minorities.

Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer said he has not seen any numbers to validate the police complaint commissioner’s claim.

“I’ve got no data to suggest that that is the case. I’d be happy to see data if someone is providing it,” he told reporters outside a police board meeting Thursday.

A Vancouver Police Department spokesman said it conducted about 6,200 street checks last year – compared with 6,900 two years ago, and 7,300 three years ago.

…Chief Palmer said he meets with his department’s professional standards section every week but has not seen an increase in complaints involving street checks.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner said it has observed an increase in such complaints, but is still working to pull the exact number from its files.

 Vancouver Police Department denies that carding is on the rise 

Port du hijab: le SPVM «ouvert» à l’idée pour ses policières

Good that it provokes discussion in other police forces located in diverse communities (the SPVM does not report publicly on its diversity last time I checked):

La Gendarmerie royale du Canada (GRC) permet désormais à ses policières musulmanes de porter le hijab, mais qu’en est-il des principaux corps policiers du Québec ? Le Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) n’a jamais reçu de demandes à ce sujet, mais se dit « très ouvert » à l’idée.

Afin de refléter davantage la population canadienne et d’encourager des femmes musulmanes à envisager une carrière policière, la GRC a récemment décidé d’autoriser le port du hijab. La GRC insiste sur le fait que le foulard a été conçu pour être sécuritaire, après une série de tests rigoureux. La nouvelle a fait le tour du monde.

« Nous n’avons pas pris position sur le sujet, mais nous sommes très ouverts à ce genre de demandes », a indiqué hier la commandante du SPVM Marie-Claude Dandenault. Cette prise de position de la GRC incite le corps policier montréalais à évaluer la question, dit-elle. Au Canada, les forces armées, la police de Toronto et la police d’Edmonton permettent déjà le port du foulard.

« J’ai toujours dit, tant qu’il y a le visage découvert, je n’ai pas de problème avec ça », a quant à lui déclaré hier le maire de Montréal, Denis Coderre, en réponse à une question sur le sujet.

Comme le SPVM, la Sûreté du Québec (SQ) n’a jamais reçu de demandes de ses membres en ce sens.

 « On n’a jamais pris position », a indiqué le lieutenant Jason Allard, responsable des communications au sein de la police provinciale, qui a souligné qu’il ne voulait pas commenter la décision de la GRC

« On n’a jamais eu de demandes d’accommodement d’uniformes pour des motifs religieux », indique le lieutenant Jason Allard, responsable des communications à la SQ.

Le lieutenant Allard affirme que la Sûreté du Québec a fait des efforts au cours des dernières années afin d’augmenter le nombre de femmes et de membres issus des communautés culturelles au sein du corps policier. « On privilégie une meilleure représentation de toutes les cultures, mais on ne vise pas de groupe spécifique comme l’a fait la GRC », dit-il.

And Calgary is already ahead:

Australia: Federal police commissioner warns MPs ‘words matter’ in debate on Islam

Wise words. The presence of One Nation in the Australian elected Senate highlights some of the political differences between Canada and Australia:

The Australian federal police commissioner, Andrew Colvin, has warned federal parliamentarians that words matter, emphasising that police rely on good relationships with the Muslim community to keep Australians safe.

Colvin was asked during an appearance on Sky News on Monday about whether he had any concerns about the newly elected One Nation MPs calling for a ban on Muslim immigration, or a royal commission into Islam.

The police commissioner was reminded about previous interventions by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) warning Coalition MPs to tone down florid rhetoric about Islam because the contributions were considered unhelpful to agencies trying to maintain public safety.

Colvin said he didn’t want to intervene in any political debates but he emphasised that people needed to be careful about their public interventions. “What I have been on the record saying and I will say it again, words do matter,” Colvin said on Monday.

“It’s very important to me that I maintain good relationships with the community. Words do matter. They listen very carefully to what’s said,” Colvin said.

Newly elected senators will come to Canberra on Tuesday for orientation ahead of the resumption of parliament next week. One Nation emerged from the recent poll with a Senate bloc of four.

One Nation’s policy on Islam states that the religion sees itself “as a theocracy, not a democracy.”

“Islam does not believe in democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the press or freedom or assembly,” the policy says.

“It does not separate religion and politics. Many believe that it is solely a religion, but the reality is that it is much more, for it has a political agenda that goes far outside the realm of religion.”

“Its religious aspect is fraud; it is rather a totalitarian political system, including legal, economic, social and military components, masquerading as a religion.”

Quebec police forces have best representation of women in Canada

police-gender-chart-2The companion piece to the analysis of visible minority representation (Police diversity fails to keep pace with Canadian populations). Waiting for the next piece on Indigenous peoples representation:

Quebec’s major police forces have among the highest proportions of female officers in the country, a CBC News analysis has found.

Leading the country is the Montreal Police Service, where nearly 32 per cent of its sworn officers are women.

At the tail end for major cities is the Winnipeg Police Service, where the proportion is less than half of Montreal`s at just under 15 per cent.

Of the 332 RCMP officers in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, less than 11 per cent are women.

For the last three decades, women and girls have formed a slim majorityof Canada’s population, Statistics Canada says.

In May, CBC News surveyed all major municipal, provincial and RCMP divisions in Canada in order to establish a national snapshot of the number of women working in the major law enforcement agencies.

The average proportion of women in these police forces stands at just over 20 per cent.

‘I thought we had done a much better job’

The woman who climbed to the highest rank in the Winnipeg Police Service’s history says she was not expecting these results.

“It was surprising. I thought we had done a much better job at recruiting women,” said former deputy chief Shelley Hart.

“I think there’s so much diversity in our police departments already that compared to what they were 38 years ago when I started, that everybody … sees policing as an option,” she said.

Hart believes that part of the challenge for some forces has been a general drop in applicants.

“Members of the public, young people, they sit back and think, do I want to be in the line of fire and have that kind of scrutiny on the decisions I make and the level of disrespect and violence on the street now and do they look at it now as one of those occupations that is desirable?” she said.

Danny Smyth, Winnipeg’s deputy chief, says he’s unsure how Montreal has managed to close the gender gap to such a degree, but despite the numbers his force has been actively recruiting women for years.

“In the ’90s we made some specific efforts; there was a time when we put in a full class that was exclusively women. I don’t know if other cities have done that and perhaps it’s something we may consider in the future again to bring more parity.”

He says the Winnipeg Police Service does not have set targets for gender recruiting, but it has set objectives for hiring more Indigenous officers.

Women bring ‘different perspectives’

Const. Nancy Roussel, spokesperson for the Quebec City Police Service, says while she knew women were relatively well represented, she was not aware of where they stood compared to their peers.

“If we consider [27.7 per cent] as a good score, then yes we’re happy, however, we haven’t undertaken any specific initiatives to target women. … The process doesn’t give preference to women,” she said.

“Throughout every level of the organization, the presence of more women brings forward different perspectives,” she said.

Source: Quebec police forces have best representation of women in Canada – Canada – CBC News