Report on the use of police force in Toronto: what now?

But this is not the first time that reports on these issues have been filed, that the police have embarked on reform projects – which arouses a certain skepticism among many. So what are the next steps for the police force?

Toronto police have identified 38 actions to address the discrimination issues brought to light on Wednesday. Measures that include more training, public consultations, and the revision of procedures.

Chief James Ramer, however, suggested that ethnicity data collected by police would not be used to identify individual acts of racismto discipline specific officers.

This is a huge hole in strategysays Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.

It’s interesting to see a change in the way [l’ancien chef] Bill Blair presented these issues, in relation to Chief Ramer. Blair was talking about “implicit bias”, which removes responsibility from the organization and the individual […]. Here Chief Ramer talked about systemic racism, but there are individuals within the organization who act in certain ways that may be biased or discriminatory.

Toronto Police Chief James Ramer apologized to the black community for years of racial profiling during a press conference on June 15, 2022.

Photo: Radio-Canada

And so, you have to look not only at institutional policies and practices, that’s important, but also at the actions of individuals. […]. To understand why these things happenhe summarizes.

If building inspectors were found to be discriminating against people because of their ethnicity, they would be fired. Why are the police treated differently?adds John Sewell, coordinator of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalitionand author of the book Crisis in Canada’s Policing on the flaws in the country’s policing systems.

In the reform pledges made by the police this week, John Sewell still sees nothing of substance. In addition to identifying problematic behaviors in order to punish them, he believes that the priority should be to start disarming the police, and above all: to attack the roots of police culture.

There is an expression that says: culture eats training for dinner. In other words, the culture is so powerful that offering more training does nothing.

In-depth changes

Stronger commitments will not come from law enforcement themselves, but rather from the police services boards that are there to oversee them, Sewell continued. We need a commission that is serious and that challenges what the chief of police says, that brings in new policies.

Moreover, in-depth changes must go through the political will of governments and through legislative frameworks, judge Christian Leuprecht, professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and at Queen’s University.

The data we have are symptoms of a much more systematic problem within our police services, the way our police services are managed, the leadership, the training, the way we recruit, the policies in place. »

A quote from Christian Leuprecht

The general public tries to change what they perceive as the problem – the interaction [policière] Such as. But I think we have much bigger problems in our police services that cannot be solved with just more [transparence] or with cameras for example.

I don’t have much hope that things will change, Leuprecht concludes. Because, yes, we can make tactical changes that will hopefully improve things. But at the end of the day, we need to rethink the way we deliver policing in Toronto, Ontario, and Canada, and I don’t see that vision, that creativity, or the political will to commit to that.

In the meantime, reports and recommendations keep piling up. John Sewell has compiled a list of 48 reports prepared for governments across the country in the past 20 years, on necessary changes for the police. His conclusion: Virtually none of these recommendations were adopted.

Reduction in funding

Data released by Toronto police this week also raised the question of a definancing of the font.

Protesters outside Toronto Police Headquarters in June 2020, demanding less funding to the police system.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Rozenn Nicolle

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, on the other hand, speaks rather of reviewing or withdrawing certain tasks (detask) to the police, especially in mental health cases. One must consider the fact that if the police intervened less often, there would be fewer opportunities to use force.

There are certain activities that can be taken away from the police and given to other agencies. Or if these other agencies do not exist, they must be created.

With information from Camille Gris Roy and Lorenda Reddekopp

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