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Letter from The Toronto Star to Chief Bill Blair

Letter from The Toronto Star to Chief Bill Blair

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Published by torontostar
A letter to Toronto's police chief about CIPS data.
A letter to Toronto's police chief about CIPS data.

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Published by: torontostar on Sep 27, 2013
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 August 7, 2013Dear Chief Blair,We have had another look at updated contact card and arrest data Through an FOI, werequested the updated data, which covers 2008 to end of 2012. As we did the last time,we have prepared a summary (attached) of our preliminary findings. We hope to meetwith you to discuss the findings sometime soon.We have looked at both the CIPS data, as we did in 2002 and 2010 and 2012, and thecontact card — or street check — data, as we did in 2010 and 2012. New this time:
By officer
: A look at contact cards by officer, unit, platoon and area. Due to datalimitations, it was not previously possible to look at this over time. A standarddeviation analysis of street checks by officer — controlling for unit, platoon and patrol area — shows there are more than 500 officers with proportionately higher ratios of contacts cards, by particular skin colours, when compared to peer  benchmarks. Interestingly, there are officers with higher ratios in each of the four skin colour categories, and some with higher ratios in more than one skin colour category. Internal benchmarking is a tool used by other services in flagging potential problems. We would like to hear from you on why groups of officerscard at significantly higher rates for people with a certain skin colour than their  peers. We’d also like to know if the service looks at carding by skin colour for individual officers, and, if not, would the service have any interest in doing so.
Where people live
: An analysis of where people who are carded live, versuswhere they were carded. Police analysts, as per our request, added data fields thatindicate home city, and where the home city is Toronto, also a home patrol zone.We have found that half of the people documented between 2008 and 2012 werestopped and questioned in their home patrol zone or in a zone that was close(within 5 kms) to their home patrol zone. We’d like to re-visit the question of whether you believe it may be possible that police in certain areas havedocumented every young person of colour who lives there.
No skin colour noted
: We’re noticing that the number of street checks where noskin colour is noted is rising. We’d like to hear your thoughts on why this ishappening.
Carding on the rise
: Between 2008 and end of 2012, the number of street checkshas increased 23 per cent. Given all of the critical attention the practice hasreceived and with an internal review of police operations underway and changescoming, we would like to hear your thoughts on what will change with regards tocarding, or street checks, now known as community inquiry reports.
An officer’s take
: A former Toronto police officer who recently left the servicehas provided us with his views on street checks and how and why they areconducted. To summarize, he sees them as both necessary in some circumstances,
 Page 2 of 26and as a form of harassment in other circumstances. He describes a system thatencourages high card counts and rewards officers with timely access to trainingopportunities, which lead to scheduled promotions. In short, he describes anunofficial quota system, which we know is official in some divisions, such as 53Division. The officer, in part, describes the carding process like this: “It’s asituation where we judge without knowing and to basically find out, we have togo and stop them. But we don’t have a reason. So, hopefully, once we run them,we’ll see that there have been contacts with police before. And that becomes our  justification. But the truth of the matter is that we’re pre-judging them, becausewe really don’t know.” The officer describes day shifts where officers areexpected to keep contact card counts high, and as a result, “we’ll actually go outin the parks and whatever and we’ll look for guys who fit a certain description,who may not be wearing fancy clothes, and we’ll harass them, like literally. Andwe call it shakedown.” We would like to hear your thoughts on this.
Multiple credits
: Our analysis has found that solo officers are receiving multiplecredits on single street checks. We would like to know if this is a data glitch or if there are other reasons we are seeing this.Once again, we have done an analysis that looks at the number of young males aged 15 to24 who have been documented by patrol zone between 2008 and end of 2012 and the populations of young males, aged 15 to 24, who live in those patrol zones. Ratios of “black” and “brown” over-representation remain consistent with our last analysis.As with our last analysis, it is the case that in every patrol zone in the city, the number of young black males documented over a period of several years (this is complicated inseveral instances by changes in patrol zone boundaries) outnumbers the population of young black males living there. While we again note that this does not mean that everyyoung man of colour living in certain areas has been documented by police, the newhome patrol zone data suggests 53 per cent of the people stopped and documented inToronto live in or near (within 5 kms) of the patrol zone where they were stopped.The overall ratios of over-representation in carding data for blacks, regardless of age,remains the same. The proportion of cards of black people is three times greater thanwhat black people represent in Toronto’s population. If one looks at the latest New York City stop and frisk data and uses the same baseline population analysis, the over-representation of blacks in contact card data in Toronto is actually
than it is for  blacks and stop and frisks in NYC.Blacks remain more likely to be stopped than whites in each of the city’s patrol zones.Caveat: Please note that Statistics Canada data was used to calculate populations by patrol zone. We have used the same methodology as we did in 2002, 2010 and 2012 toclassify population skin colour as either “white,” “black,” “brown” or “other” in order tocompare with the skin colour classifications in the police data. Because of boundarychanges, effective September 2011, we have adjusted the analysis, where appropriate, toreflect the changes.
 Page 3 of 26Looking at the CIPS data, with some variation, it appears there has been little change inthe way people identified as “black” are treated. For example, blacks are much morelikely to be ticketed for “out-of-sight” driving offences than whites. Also in CIPS, we seethat blacks are still more likely to be held for bail than whites when facing a simple drug possession charge. However, due to a change in the way the data was released to the Star,we are no longer able to make meaningful comparisons in the current drug possessionanalysis to past Star analyses.Also unchanged in CIPS, we see that, when compared to their baseline population, blacksare charged for certain criminal offences, including those for serious violent allegations,at a rate higher than their baseline population in census data.We would like to hear your thoughts on these and other issues in the data analysis thatfollows. We are well aware that the service is conducting an internal review of operationsand that you or may not currently be in a position to discuss what is being looked at whenit comes to carding, but we would of course like to hear about any plans.We are available to meet whenever it is convenient for you and, as always, look forwardto doing so.Sincerely,Andrew Bailey, Data AnalystHidy Ng, Mapping SpecialistJim Rankin, Reporter Patty Winsa, Reporter Toronto Star Main contact:Jim Rankin jrankin@thestar.ca 416-869-4431

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