A Statement about Race-based Data from the Toronto Police Association

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

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

What the data does tell us is that more than 90% of all use of force incidents were the result of a reactive policing encounter, meaning our officers responded to a call for service, more than half being violent calls for service. While certain benchmarks may have been applied, the data does not reflect the totality of each engagement because there is no context given to the circumstance or individual officers were faced with.

Our Toronto Police Association members have 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, Unit Commander, and Toronto Police College. If inappropriate force was identified there are many oversight agencies, including Professional Standards, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, and the Special Investigations Unit which would conduct a review and members, where appropriate, would be held accountable.

Without digging deeper into this data, it’s very difficult to determine the best path forward. To be clear, the Toronto Police Association condemns any form of racism, in any aspect of policing, and so do our members. Our membership is diverse, reflective of the communities we serve, and do their best during very challenging, 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 halls, interview rooms, police vehicles, and body-worn cameras, which have resulted in their interactions with the public being recorded at virtually every moment.

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

But more needs to be done and we are asking the Service to fast-track various technology-based initiatives that will result in more thorough data collection. Interactions between the police and the community are complex, based on multiple factors, and more data is clearly needed to gain a fulsome understanding of the context in which police operate daily.

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

For more information:

Meaghan Gray
Chief Communications Officer