Winnipeg’s top cop says he is open to sharing ethnicity data on those against whom police officers use force, after that information was absent in the latest police board report.
Chief Danny Smyth said the use of force report doesn’t include ethnicity data because the information inputted was meant to meet the standards of The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
“We don’t do that deliberately,” Smyth said after Monday’s police board meeting.
Of the 231,668 calls for service in 2019, Winnipeg police officers used force against people 857 times, which is less than one per cent of the time, according to the report.
“We don’t readily keep racial or ethnic data on anything but the people we actually arrest,” Smyth said.
“That’s not to say that if the board or the community wanted us to try to collect data in a different way, we (couldn’t) do that.”
After criticizing a lack of transparency, University of Winnipeg associate criminal justice professor Kevin Walby is happy with the chief’s response.
“It’s in the public’s interest to know if there is profiling going on regarding race and ethnicity,” Walby said.
“Let’s be honest about what’s happening in Winnipeg.”
Councillor Markus Chambers, who sits on the police board, also wants to know who force is being used on.
“It talks to transparency, it talks to accountability and it speaks to the issues of the moment,” Chambers said.
Police board chair Kevin Klein, however, fears sharing ethnic data could cause more conflict.
“I don’t want to see division created,” Klein said.
“I want to see everyone treated equally and I think it’s important you manage the data you collect appropriately. I would like the data speak specifically to us as a people, speak to us as Winnipeggers, us as Manitobans, us as Canadians.”
The five-year average of use of force in Winnipeg is 858, or about one use of force encounter for every 270 calls for service.
Use of force has come under scrutiny after the death of a 46-year-old Black man, George Floyd, in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25.