Ottawa

Racial profiling policy under fire

Ottawa police's racial profiling policy is less than a week old and it is already coming under fire from past victims.

Ottawa police's racial profiling policy is less than a week old, but it is already being criticized by victims whose court case initiated it.

Harbi Gabad and Kazeli Chiteta co-owned the Ambassador Bar and Grill in 2004 when police raided the Bank Street restaurant, handcuffing every black person inside. A lone white man was left alone.

Officers said they were following a report of a black man with a gun, but the gun was never found and no one was charged. Gabad was also treated at hospital for a cut to his head.

The force's new policy unveiled Tuesday states police are now required to look for physical characteristics in a suspect description beyond race or ethnicity, such as matching height or weight.

Also, a police officer's main goal when pulling someone over has to be to conduct a traffic investigation, not a criminal one. That has to be case even if there is a traffic violation.

But Gabad and Chiteta said there is something missing. Gabad believes the policy will be most effective if the policy outlines specific punishments for individual officers who break the rules.

At the same time, he also wants rewards for fair policing.

"There are good cops doing a good job, but good cops need a reward, compensated for their good work in the community," he said.

Gabad added police never issued an official apology for the incident — and he is still waiting. He did get a financial settlement in 2009, though that took five years in court.

Ottawa police officers will be trained on the new racial profiling policy by early fall and a full review will be completed at the end of November.