Sudbury

Head of chiefs of police responds to report on eliminating racial profiling

The president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police says he will work with the province’s Ontario Human Rights Commission to eliminate racial profiling, but Paul Pedersen says there are problems with some recommendations put forward.

Ontario Human Rights Commission released report to eliminate racial profiling in law enforcement

Paul Pedersen is the president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and chief of Sudbury police. (Benjamin Aube CBC)

The president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police says he will work with the province's Ontario Human Rights Commission to eliminate racial profiling, but Paul Pedersen says there are problems with some recommendations put forward.

On Friday, the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Renu Mandhane, released a policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement. The report stated the police practice hurts black, Indigenous and other racialized communities.

The recommendations in the report include acknowledging the problem, collecting data on police stops and independent accountability.

Paul Pedersen, the president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and chief of police in Sudbury says he welcomes the recommendations.

"We want to make sure that this isn't just seen as something that sits on a shelf, that it's something that is operational across the province," he said.

"What comes next is the challenge because … each police service is on a different continuum with respect to dealing with eliminating racial profiling and preventing racial profiling."

One recommendation includes police forces starting to collect race-based data, something some police services including Sudbury and Toronto are already doing.

"In getting that data about who we are stopping and when and from what community or culture does that person come from, one might think collecting that data is simple but it's not," he said.

"Some people have multiple cultures within their own family, and how does that person want to be identified and how do you ask that question without offending that person?"

'Challenges' with some recommendations

Pedersen says not all the recommendations can easily be put into practice.

"Some of them have some challenges associated with them," he said. "Some of them intersect with labour laws and police discipline process that we're going to have to work with the commissioner on and she's open to that."

He says one issue to follow up on will be with the recommendation that all police officers wear body cameras.

"I think you can only imagine what a challenge that is depending on the size of the police service, the budget of the police service and the capacity of the police service to handle digital evidence," he said.

With files from Kate Rutherford

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