Montreal

Montreal police reject racial profiling report

The Montreal Police Service is disputing the findings of an internal report that says racial profiling within the city's police force is "alarming."

The Montreal Police Service is disputing the findings of an internal report that says racial profiling within the city's police force is "alarming."

The report, done by a criminologist who has been with the Montreal Police Service since 2006, says young black youth in neighbourhoods in the north part of Montreal were stopped by police around 40 per cent of the time, compared to five or six per cent for white youth.

The leaked report, obtained by the French-language daily La Presse, also says random stops of black citizens more than doubled between 2001 and 2007.

The data cited in the report was compiled for 2006 and 2007, and the study was commissioned by police after the shooting of 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva by a police officer in Montreal North on Aug. 9, 2008.

Criminologist Mathieu Charest concludes in his report that the proportion of incidents of racial profiling is "way too high."

"The [Montreal police] should set an objective to return to an acceptable level of 10 to 15 per cent and should use tools … to avoid "fishing expeditions," wrote Charest in his report.

Police call report inaccurate

The police department said the data is incomplete and the methodology flawed.

Cmdr. Eric LaPenna, one of the officers on the force's racial profiling committee, said the police service is serious about racial profiling.

"If there's any situation, individual or systemic, that we're led to believe there is racism, or racial profiling, it will be dealt with immediately," said LaPenna.

The police department's official policy on profiling is that if it exists, it's only in isolated cases.

LaPenna said the internal report was not shelved, but it was not shown to the force's upper administration.

"There's a lot of aspects of that report that we have to keep looking into, to better understand what the results are telling us, said LaPenna.

Benoît Dupont, criminologist with the University of Montreal and a part-time consultant with the Montreal police, said the report's findings seem plausible because they mirror data collected in Toronto, as well as in the U.S. and Europe.

"I think the decision was made not to use it, not to acknowledge its existence until today, and not to use it in further policy decisions around the issue of racial profiling," said Dupont.