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Toronto ombudsman to review investigation into anti-Black racism allegations against bylaw officer

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he wants anti-Black racism training fast-tracked for bylaw officers
WATCH: Toronto Mayor John Tory says he wants anti-Black racism training fast-tracked for bylaw officers.

City officials say the Toronto ombudsman will review an investigation involving a bylaw enforcement officer and two Black women who allege he was racially profiling them at an Etobicoke park earlier this week.

Susan Opler, the city’s ombudsman, said that “any allegation of anti-Black racism in city enforcement is serious and must be properly and fairly investigated.”

On Tuesday, a video of the interaction between the bylaw enforcement officer and the two women was posted to Twitter. In the video, the women allege the bylaw officer racially profiled them during a visit to Centennial Park for a routine workout. They also allege the bylaw officer made racist comments to them and asked for identification.

READ MORE: Black women allege Toronto bylaw officer racially profiled them — ‘I was kind of shocked’

Speaking to Global News, one of the women, Eva, alleged the officer said: “If this was my home, I would be licensed to … shoot both of you guys right now.”

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“And when he said that, I couldn’t believe it at first. I was kind of shocked,” said Eva, who did not provide her last name.

City of Toronto launches investigation after video shows bylaw officer allegedly stopping two black women at Toronto park
City of Toronto launches investigation after video shows bylaw officer allegedly stopping two black women at Toronto park

Throughout the video, the bylaw officer denies the allegations being made against him.

Opler said Ombudsman Toronto is not investigating the specific incident at this time but will review the investigation launched by the city, which is being conducted by an outside party.

“We will be reviewing the city’s investigation to ensure that it is fair, thorough and transparent. It is essential that the city take responsibility for investigating what happened. But the public needs to have assurance that there will be independent oversight of that investigation,” Opler said.

The ombudsman’s office said it informed the city on Wednesday that it is looking for details on the investigation, including the terms of reference for the investigation, who will conduct the investigation, how it will be conducted and timelines for its completion.

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Ombudsman Toronto provides independent oversight of City of Toronto services and administration to ensure that the city treats all people fairly.

— With files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca and Erica Vella