A ‘pivotal’ moment: Police board approves race-based data collection in Toronto

Toronto’s police services board has approved a new policy that will direct officers to start tracking and reporting the races of people involved in certain encounters with police.

In a news release issued Thursday, the police service said the new policy exists to identify, monitor, and eliminate potential systemic racism.

“The Toronto Police Service is committed to the promotion of equity, fairness and non-discriminatory policing in Toronto,” the statement reads.

The new race-based data collection policy follows a key recommendation from a sweeping 2018 interim report on race and policing from the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). The report found a black person in Toronto was nearly 20 times more likely than a white person to be shot and killed by police.

Now, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders will have to establish a procedure for collecting, analyzing and publicly reporting race-based data, with the goal of rolling out the first phase of the project by this January.

The first phase is set to collect race-based data from use of force reports — basically, whenever an officer uses force or a display of force (like pulling their gun) in an interaction with the public.

Toronto police announced Thursday they also plan to include reporting on strip searches.

“This is a pivotal point in the history of the Toronto Police Service,” the service’s statement says.

“Our work today to incorporate an anti-racism approach to our policies and procedures will have far-reaching and progressive impacts for generations to come.”

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