Ending Racial Profiling

AuthorBobby Siu
ChAPTeR 13
Ending Racial Prof‌iling
 *
The purpose of this paper is to present a model of organizational chan-
ges in law enforcement agencies that, upon proper implementation, is
expected to end racial prof‌iling in police actions. The paper begins w ith
a brief discussion on the prevalence of racial prof‌iling and why ending
it is critical. It is then followed by a presentation of the model with four
pillars: strategic leadership, research, human resource management, and
stakeholder engagement.
In each of these pillars, selected components with high potential to
end racial prof‌iling will be discussed. Specif‌ically, strategic leadership
will cover corporate value, policy, and culture; research will cover data
collection and analysis on police actions, human resource management,
and policing strategies; human resource management will cover staf‌f‌i ng,
training, and performa nce management; and stakeholder engagement
will cover the engagement of community members and employees.
1) Prevalence of Racial Prof‌iling
There are many ways to look at racial prof‌iling and the literature shows a
broad range of def‌initions. For the working purpose of this paper, racial
prof‌iling is def‌ined as a formal or informal policy, strategy, and/or practice
implemented by a law enforcement organization or its agents, for reasons
* Bobby Siu is an adjunct professor of p ublic policy and public administ ration, York Uni-
versi ty.
Bobby Siu
they see f‌it, to identify individuals based on an association of race with
criminality, which results in adverse impacts on racialized mi norities.
In Canada, racial prof‌iling had been noted, as early as 1992, by Ste-
phen Lewis in his Report to the Pre mier on Raci sm in Ontario. The report
drew our attention to the experience of racialized minorities (especially
African Canad ians) in discrimination in the cri minal justice system. Such
f‌indings were further conf‌i rmed by the Commission on Systemic Racism
in the Ontario Criminal Justice System (1995), the Association of Black
Law Enforcers, and the African Canadia n Legal Clinic.1
The overrepresentation of Aboriginal peoples as of‌fenders in the
criminal justice system has been well documented in the literature.2 Si m-
ilar patterns are noted for the Blacks and West Asians.3 Disproportionate
minority contacts by the law enforcement of‌f‌icers have also been noted
in the US, Australia, and Eu ropean countries. After exam ining police
treatment of youth aged twelve to seventeen in Canada, Fitzgerald and
Carrington concluded that racially discrim inatory policing might be one
explanation for dispropor tionate minority contac ts.4
1 Ontario Human R ights Commission, Paying the P rice: The Human Cost of R acial
Prof‌iling: Inquiry Report (Toronto: Ontario Hu man Rights Commission, 2 003) at 9–10
[Paying the Pr ice].
2 Carol LaPrairie, Dim ensions of Abo riginal Ove r-Representat ion in Correcti onal
Institut ions and Implicat ions for Crime Pre vention (Ottawa: S olicitor General, 1992);
Julian V Roberts & R onald-Frans Melchers, “T he Incarceration of Aborigi nal
Of‌fenders: Trends from 197 8 to 2001” (2003) 45 Canadian Journ al of Criminolog y and
Criminal Justice 211; Karen B eattie, “Adult Correctional Ser vices in Canada, 20 04/2005”
(2006) 26:5 Jur ista t; Jodi-A nne Brzozowski, And rea Taylor-Butts, & Sara Johnson ,
“Victimi zation and Of‌fending Among t he Aboriginal Populat ion in Canada” (2006) 26:3
Juris tat; Robin Fitzgerald & Pe ter Carrington, “T he Neighbourhood Context of Urban
Aborigina l Crime” (2008) 50 Canadian Jou rnal of Criminolo gy and Crimina l Justice 523.
3 Jim Rankin et a l, “Singled Out: An Invest igation into Race and Crime ” Toronto Star (19
October 2002) A1; Sc ot Wortley, “Justice for All? Race and Perceptions of Bi as in the
Ontario Crimi nal Justice System — A Toronto Surve y” (October 1996) 38:4 Can adian
Journal of Criminology 439; Scot Wort ley & Julian Tanner, “Data, Den ials, and Confusion:
The Racial Pro f‌iling Debate in Toronto” (July 2003) 45: 3 Canadian Journal of Criminology
and Criminal Justice 367; Scot Wortley & Julian Tanner, “Inf‌la mmatory Rhetoric?
Baseless Accusat ions? A Response to Gabor’s Critique of Racia l Prof‌iling Research i n
Canada” (July 20 05) 47:3 Canadian Journ al of Criminolog y and Criminal Jus tice 581; Nene
Ernst Khalem a & Jenny Wannas-Jones, “Under the Prism of Su spicion: Minority Voices
in Canada Post-Septemb er 11” (2003) 23 Journal of Muslim Mino rity Af‌fairs 25 .
4 Robin Fitzgerald & Peter Ca rrington, “Disprop ortionate Minority Contact i n Canada:
Police and Visible Minorit y Youth” (2011) 53 Canadian Journal of Criminology and Cr imi-
nal Justice 449.
Ending Racial Prof‌iling 
Human rights commissions, including the Alberta Human R ights
Commission and the Ontario Human Rights Commission, reported al-
legations of racial prof‌iling (such as police stops, unreasonable question-
ing, requests for identif‌ication, retaining personal information) in the law
enforcement f‌ield and documented Ontario court cases related to racial
prof‌iling.5 Similarly, the Commission des droits de la personne et des
droits de la jeunesse in Quebec has received complaints of racial prof‌il-
ing since 2003, most of them related to police services.6 Both the human
rights tribunals and the courts have repeatedly recognized that racial
prof‌iling is systemic in nature and not an isolated incident.
The extent of allegations of racial prof‌iling has been par tially quanti-
f‌ied by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. In 200 7, it had 151 active
complaints against 21 dif‌ferent police services with another 19 complaints
before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario for adjudication. Although
the complaints against police services constituted only 4 percent of all
active human rights complaints, racial prof‌ile was still the largest single
theme.7 “Human rights complaints against police organizations are con-
sistently the largest single sector of human rights complaints in Ontario.”8
While some racial prof‌iling cases had been formalized as human
rights complaints and went through the tribunal process, the perception
of racial prof‌iling among diverse groups is much more widespread.
The Ethno-Cu ltural Council of Calgary did a study on the per-
ception of ethno-cultura l groups and noted that 84 percent of re-
spondents reported that they have personally experienced racial
prof‌iling, and 82 percent of them knew at least one person who
5 Alberta Human R ights Commission, “Racia l Prof‌iling Information Shee t” (2012),
online: ww w.albertahumanrights.ab.ca/Documents/RacialProf‌iling.pdf; Payi ng the Price,
above note 1; Ontario Hum an Rights Commission, Subm ission of the Ontar io Human
Rights Commi ssion to the Indepen dent Police Revie w Director’s Syste mic Review of Ont ario
Provinc ial Police Practi ces from DNA Sampling (April 2 014) [OHRC Submission].
6 L ouise Brossard & Evelyne Ped neault, Racial Prof‌i ling and Systemic Di scriminat ion of
Raciali zed Youth: Report of the Cons ultation on Rac ial Prof‌iling and Its Co nsequences —
One Year Later: Taking S tock (Quebec: Commission des droits de la personne et des
droits de la jeunesse, 201 2) at 9 [Brossard & Pedneault].
7 Shaheen Azmi, “Ontario Hu man Rights Commission Promot ion Activities: The
Experience of Resp onding to Racial Prof‌il ing by Police” in Shelagh Day, Lucie
Lamarche, & Ken Norma n, eds, 14 Argume nts in Favour of Human Rights Inst itutions
(Toronto: Irwin Law, 201 4) 305 at 309 [Azmi, OHRC Promotion Act ivities].
8 Ont ario Human Rights Comm ission, Human Rights and Polic ing: Creating and Su staining
Organizational Change (Toronto: Ontario Human Rights Com mission, 2011) at 13
[OHRC , Human Rights an d Policing].

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