Toronto police to probe racism allegations

Toronto police chief asks retired judge to investigate allegations of racism on force.

The head of the country's biggest municipal police service has ordered an independent inquiry into the way the force deals with the black community.

Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino said he doesn't think there is widespread racism or corruption among officers.

But a recent investigative report by The Toronto Star has "created such anxiety and controversy" that an inquiry is now necessary, he told a news conference Friday.

Fantino has asked retired Ontario chief justice Charles Dubbin to conduct a review of race relations on the force.

The Star published a series of stories this month concluding that the city's police force treats white people better than blacks. The reports were based partly on the department's own data, including statistics about arrests and charges.

Fantino, who had previously dismissed the newspaper's articles as flawed, cut short a business trip to Switzerland to address the allegations.

"Regardless of the inaccuracy of the Star's conclusions," he wrote in a news release, there is now a perception of a serious problem, making Dubbin's independent inquiry necessary. The findings will be made public.

The force is not "racist or corrupt," Fantino added, although he conceded there might have been a few isolated problems in the past. If Dubbin makes any recommendations, the chief said he's prepared to act on them.

"I have never denied that there are instances of inappropriate conduct by a small number of our members some that have been viewed as discriminatory and racist," Fantino said.

The police chief said he wants to meet with black leaders in Toronto to discuss any concerns they may have.