TORONTO, March 31, 2005 - The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is pleased that the concerns and experiences of Toronto police officers of African descent have finally been brought to light two years after they met with now former chief Julian Fantino, and lauds them for their courage in taking the issue to the top. The meeting was revealed in a Toronto Star article which confirmed that senior African Canadian officers told Chief Fantino that racial profiling existed in the Toronto Police Service.
"One can only imagine how these officers must have been feeling in the face of all the denials that there was no racial profiling, or that it was relegated to just a "few bad apples". As the article indicates, these officers were silenced and that silencing must have a created a profound dilemma with their community." noted Dr. Karen Mock, the Executive Director of the CRRF.
The Toronto Star article described some of the experiences of these officers including that "half a dozen of them said they'd been stopped more than 12 times in a year and three said they'd been stopped more than once in a one-week span while they were off duty. Others described how they had been treated by fellow officers including making racist comments in their presence.
"This shows that racism, not just racial profiling, is a systemic problem that needs attention and we hope that Acting Chief Boyd undertakes to do something about this. Again, this points to more than just one-day workshops in race relations. Anti-racism has to be an integral part of the police officer's training," added Dr. Mock. "We're looking forward to working both with Acting Chief Boyd as well the C.O. Bick College to improve anti-racism training of police officers."
Following the original Toronto Star story in October 2002, the CRRF held a summit meeting chaired by Lincoln Alexander which was attended by senior government and police officials as well as the Association of Black Law Enforcers (ABLE). A follow-up meeting was held in February 2003.
Over the course of the last two years, there has been wider recognition of racial profiling including in the courts which have dismissed charges because they were laid as a result of racial profiling.