Black, indigenous people face disproportionate policing in Toronto, data shows

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(Reuters) - Black, indigenous and other racialized communities have faced disproportionate use-of-force and strip searches by Toronto Police, Chief James Ramer said on Wednesday, as he apologized and promised to address systemic racism in the department.

"As an organization we have not done enough to ensure that every person in our city receives fair and unbiased policing and for this, as chief of police and on behalf of the service, I am sorry and I apologize unreservedly," Ramer said.

Black people are 2.2 times more likely to have an interaction with police officers and are 1.6 times more likely to have force used on them during the interaction, according to analysis of racial data compiled by Toronto Police.

People from Black, Middle-Eastern, Latino and Asian communities were also overrepresented in reported use-of-force incidents, police said.

Public sectors in Ontario are required to collect race-based data by law, and the findings released on Wednesday are from data police collected in 2020.

"The results have confirmed what, for many decades, racialized communities – particularly the Black and indigenous communities -- have been telling us; that they are disproportionately over-policed," Ramer said.

Ramer said the department would implement 38 "action items," including training on anti-Black racism and indigenous discrimination, as well as mandating the review of officers' body cameras for all use of force incidents.

"We would also like to recognise the renewed collaboration with the Ontario Human Rights Commission and their important and ongoing inquiry into systemic racism and policing in Toronto," Ramer said.

Ontario's Human Rights Commission has previously found Toronto police are more likely to stop, charge, over-charge, strike, shoot and kill Black people.

The death of George Floyd, an African-American who died after a U.S. police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes in 2020, sparked a wave of Black Lives Matter protests in cities around the world, including Toronto, against police brutality and racism.

Canada's federal government introduced a bill last month to establish an oversight body for its border police and its national police service after two previous bills died when Parliament was dissolved.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; additional reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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