Police face lawsuit for profiling

by | Nov 29, 2013 | News

Jacob Wilson-Hajdu
Crime Reporter

Toronto Police are being sued $65 million for racial profiling by the Black Action Defence Committee.

The committee said the Toronto Police are racially profiling while carding individuals.  Carding is when an officer stops someone and asks for identification.

“From my perspective, the carding idea was put in place for police to build a stronger rapport with the members of the community and making note on who they were talking to,” said Arthur Lockhart from Humber College’s police foundations program.

“The people who were being carded tended to be from minority groups and from low economic status. That’s who seemed the focus was looked at on that level and so then it can be reflected as racial profiling,” Lockhart said.

He said this could cause a barrier between police and the community.

“It’s not building healthy relationships, but in fact targeting people who somehow stereotypically profiled as people who get into conflict with the law.”  Lockhart said.

Toronto Police have released The PACER Report, which reviews carding in the city. According to the analysis, from 2009 to 2011 there were 1,104,461 persons entered into the Field Information Report database.

Some individuals feel they were racially profiled during police interactions.

“When I got downtown to a bar or a club with people who are white, they get searched and I get searched, but I seem to get searched for like 20 minutes,” said Rob Lewis, a fashion arts student, who is of Jamaican descent.

“I wouldn’t file a complaint because it probably wouldn’t work, to be honest. It seems like they would just be too big to go up against-that sort of feeling,” Lewis said.

Those who feel like they’ve been racially profiled have two different options to file complaints against the Toronto Police, one being internal and the other external.

“You can do it with the unit commander at a divisional level, or go to the OIPRD,“ said Toronto Police Constable Wendy Drummond.

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director is a service external to any policing organization to make sure that complaints against police are dealt with fairly and efficiently.

“They are a complete independent body that reviews complaints. So there is no police connection with them.” Drummond said.