Toronto Police Data Shows A Disproportionate Use Of Force & Strip Searches Against Black People

"On behalf of the service, I am sorry and I apologize unreservedly," said Police Chief James Ramer.

Toronto Associate Editor
Toronto Police Chief James Ramer at the June 15 press conference.

Toronto Police Chief James Ramer at the June 15 press conference.

On Wednesday, June 15, the Toronto Police Service released the never-before-seen findings from its internally conducted Race & Identity Based Data Collection Strategy.

This article contains content that may be upsetting to some of our readers.

The report revealed police findings based on data that was gathered in 2020 of "officers' perceptions of an individual's race in use-of-force and strip searches."

It found that out of the 86,520 police "enforcement actions" that year, 949 led to the use of force against 1,224 members of the public.

Black people were more than two times overrepresented in enforcement actions compared to their presence in the community, while Indigenous people were 1.6 times overrepresented.

Black people were also involved in the most use-of-force incidents, making up 39% of total interactions that year (compared to white people at 36%). East and Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern and Latinx people were also overrepresented in reported use-of-force incidents.

The 119-slide report also revealed that Black people were 2.3 times more likely than white people to have an officer point a firearm at them when police did not suspect they had a weapon on them.

TPS has identified 38 actions to address their findings with use-of-force and strip searches, which are in line with other ongoing initiatives such as the TPSB's 81 recommendations on police reform.

Due to the gravity of their findings, Chief of Police James Ramer issued a statement where he "unreservedly" apologized for results that have been called upon by racialized communities — especially Black and Indigenous communities — for decades.

"The release of this data will cause pain for many. Your concerns have deep roots that go beyond the release of today's report. We must improve; we will do better," Ramer said Wednesday.

The apology isn't accepted

Beverly Bain from the No Pride in Policing Coalition, which is a group of 2SLGBTQIA+ people focused on defunding and abolishing the police, did not accept the police chief's apology.

"I'll say to you Chief Ramer, you talk about it being a painful and hurtful process to your police officers, but this is insulting to Black people," Bain said during the conference.

"This is insulting to Indigenous people. This is insulting to racialized people. This is insulting to the homeless, to those of us who are queer and trans."

In a statement posted on Instagram, No Pride in Policing demanded that City Council hear their demands to "defund and ultimately abolish the Toronto Police Service, and redistribute its budgets to fund housing, food, public transit, and other life-giving supports."

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