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Canada

New data to show that Ottawa police continue to disproportionately pull over middle eastern and black drivers

Data from the continued collection of race data from all traffic stops conducted by Ottawa police continues to show disproportionate numbers of middle eastern and black drivers being stopped by police, according to an email sent to all officers by Chief Peter Sloly in advance of Wednesday’s public release of two studies.

Police will hold a “technical briefing” for media Wednesday morning that will detail the findings of the second set of race data collection during traffic stops. The original project was mandated as a result of a human rights settlement with the police service after a young black man alleged he was racially profiled when he was pulled over while driving a luxury vehicle. Though the Ottawa police was only required to collect data on the perceived race of drivers that officers pulled over from 2013 to 2015, the force opted to continue the project.

The report details the second set of that data and “shows that while there are modest decreases in disproportionate rates, we continue to see high disproportionate rates of Black and Middle Eastern males being stopped,” Sloly told officers. In 2016, the findings from the first set of data was largely the same.

The service will also release the results of a “diversity audit” on Wednesday, which surveyed the state of the service’s own diversity. That audit “shows that, while we are making progress in many areas such as outreach recruitment and the new neighbourhood resource teams, we still have work to do on leadership and governance, policy, human resource management, promotional processes, and community policing and engagement,” Sloly wrote.

“These are not easy issues to face in any profession and I know that community comments and criticism are felt by frontline police officers first,” he said. Sloly said the reports contain “difficult findings” but that he vows that the service will not blame officers and instead work with them and the community to “improve our systems.”

The reports, too, contain “opportunities to address systemic barriers and make policing better for everyone.”

Sloly wrote that “bias, racial profiling and other forms of discrimination” can exist in policing as they do in the rest of society but that the documents are proof that there have been efforts to address both the community’s and officers’ concerns.

“We are going to continue to strive for professional and equitable policing,” the chief said. “We have to work together to move from reports and recommendations to greater action.”

syogaretnam@postmedia.com

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