Monday, February 15, 2010

Babsy Hall's Make Work Project

A story that could have only arisen in our excruciatingly sensitive times--Toronto police and Babsy Hall's "human rights" outfit are at odds over collecting info about the race/ethnicity of those arrested by police. Police are reluctant to do so out of concerns that collecting such data will be perceived as "racist". The "rights" types are convinced that such data would reveal a pattern of prejudice and "profiling" by police, thereby justifying the efforts of--and drumming up business for--the rights types. (Otherwise they'd be sitting on their hands, staring at the walls of their cushy digs, with nothing to do: it's not like "human rights" complaints are tumbling into their laps these days. If they want to find "prejudice," they can't wait for it to come to them; they have to go out and find it themselves.) The Toronto Star, which definitely has a dog in this fight, reports on the squabble:

...Following a 2002 Star series on race, policing and crime in Toronto, which showed black people in certain circumstances were treated more harshly, a number of groups, including the human rights commission, called on police to collect and analyze data on every interaction with police.

"Where anecdotal evidence of racial profiling exists, the organization involved should collect data for the purpose of monitoring its occurrence and to identify measures to combat it," the commission recommended in its 2003 report, Paying the Price: The Human Cost of Racial Profiling.

The Star obtained updated arrest and charge data, as well as a database that tracks who police choose to document in mostly non-criminal encounters, in a freedom of information request spanning nearly seven years.

Between 2003 and 2008, Toronto police filled out 1.7 million contact cards. Police use the card data to link people and find witnesses and suspects in later crimes. They don't fill out a card on every contact.

A Star analysis found black people are three times more likely to be documented than white.

An analysis of the updated arrest and charge data shows little change since 2002.

Black people arrested for drug possession are still more likely to be held for bail, and black motorists continue to be disproportionately ticketed for certain "out-of-sight" driving offences.

Black people are also charged with violent crime at a higher rate than any other group (see graphic).

Police feel there is no need for mandatory data collection and analysis because they have acknowledged bias is a factor in police decisions and are taking steps to deal with the problem.

Police services board chair Alok Mukherjee described the data debate as "one of the most important issues that we are grappling with" and "pretty intense."

"Animated," is how police Chief Bill Blair put it. "I have to tell you that we are exploring it."

The human rights commission does not have the authority to order the police to do anything...
Well, not officially, anyway. But you can see where this one is going. Police will be ordered to amass the data, and will be bashed with it by the rights types. As a result, police will be less likely to arrest Black people (which isn't "people" so much as it is young males)--which, in effect, amounts to the "human rights" commission pushing police around and interfering with the way they conduct their business. And anyone who thinks that that's a good thing--and who thinks that the reason Toronto police arrest a lot of "Black people" (really, young Black males) is because police are all a bunch of "profiling"-crazed bigots and not because young, Black males tend to commit a disproportionate amount of crime (is it "bigoted" to point that out?)--should think again. On the other hand, the whole thing could end up backfiring on Babsy, since it will confirm the high crime rate, much of it violent, among Blacks (something anyone who reads the papers or listens to news in the city already knows), and make people feel sympathy not for Blacks, but for police who, after all, are only trying to do their job.

Are there bigots among them? No doubt there are--and they should be weeded out. But to go after police in this way in order to reveal a non-existent systemic prejudice is both shocking and shameful. It's also another way the OHRC, in the thoes of delusions of grandeur, has overstepped its mandate and outworn its welcome. 

1 comment:

Blazing Cat Fur said...

From the Star I gather all criminal suspects are all space aliens possessed of a translucent visage.