Irshadgul News report,
Members of the Waterloo Regional Police Service board reviewed both intelligence notes and the annual report on the use of force, including race-based data, at a meeting Wednesday.
According to the police, there are two ways of analyzing the data. First race-based data are compared to local population demographics to show whether racial groups are disproportionately represented in the data.
The second, which compares the proportion of racial groups caught in police data to the proportion of white individuals caught in police data to show if there is a disparity that police say they prefer.
Waterloo Region Police Service (WRPS) data shows the WRPS disproportionately made intelligence notes and used force against black and Middle Eastern people in 2022.
According to 2021 census data, Waterloo Regional Police data shows 14 percent of 325 incidents of use of force last year involved people who were perceived as black people, the local population of black people. Despite being only five percent of
Six percent of incidents of use of force involved Middle Easterners, who account for three percent of the local population.
White people, who account for 70 percent of the local population, were involved in 71 percent of incidents of use of force.
Mark Crowell, chief of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, noted that the number of police interactions and arrests that result in the use of force is small, less than 0.1 percent.
“These are dynamic incidents involving violence where our officers are responding and making other decisions,” Crowell said.
Inspector Jason Boucher said the police began incorporating equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) into training several years ago and are committed to this.
“I think right now we’re going to maintain that trajectory, we’re going to maintain the inculcation of EDI principles,” Boucher said. “Nothing can really move us away from the status quo.”
Move towards a new way of data analysis
Waterloo Regional Police say they are moving away from using population demographics as a benchmark for analyzing race-based data. They say it wrongly assumes that everyone is at equal risk of being involved in a use-of-force incident and that the census data may underestimate the number of racialized people in the area.
Instead, racial disparity reporting focuses on answering the question, “Given similar circumstances, do racial and white individuals experience similar outcomes,” Mandy Williams, manager of the WRPS Strategic Services branch, said at the meeting.
“What we’re doing when we calculate the racial disparity is we’re comparing the proportion of force incidents involving black or Middle Eastern individuals to the proportion of incidents involving white individuals,” Williams said. “without considering any other relevant factors [including population demographics] We see no evidence of overrepresentation of racial individuals.
Police data indicates of all use of force incidents, black men were more likely to be involved in incidents classified as ‘highest use of force’ where officers pointed or discharged their firearms. They were also over-represented in incidents of ‘least use of force’ – where officers deployed impact weapons, police animals or physical restraints.
Police were more likely to use ‘intermediate’ use of force options, which they define as an officer drawing a firearm, in incidents involving white people compared to black people.
As far as intelligence notes go, of the 555 notes made about people last year as part of an investigation or intelligence gathering, 28 percent involved black people. Two percent consisted of indigenous people. Five percent were Middle Eastern and 60 percent were white.
Williams said caution needs to be exercised in interpreting the figures because the numbers are small and the change of just a few people can make a big difference.
When asked by reporters, Chief Crowell said that the over-representation of people of color in the intelligence notes is not just a police issue.
“This isn’t street checking. need,” Crowell said. “This is not about policing … this is a community discussion about the issues of crime in our community.”
Starting in 2020, Ontario police forces are required to collect race-based data in accordance with a provincial directive.