Peel police board unveils new committee to tackle systemic racism

Click to play video: 'Meeting with Brampton, Mississauga mayors to discuss police-involved shootings'
Meeting with Brampton, Mississauga mayors to discuss police-involved shootings
RELATED: Community members and family members of four people injured or killed in police-involved interactions in Peel Region have gathered to meet with Mississauga and Brampton mayors to discuss police violence and anti-Black racism. Erica Vella reports – Sep 2, 2020

The board overseeing the police force that serves communities in Mississauga and Brampton has announced an overhaul of its advisory committees in an attempt to make police interactions more equitable.

The Peel Regional Police Services Board announced its diversity and inclusion committee would be incorporated into a newly formed governance and human rights committee.

The goal of the committee will be to “apply a human rights lens to policing,” the board said.

Read more: Peel Regional Police, Ontario Human Rights Commission sign agreement to root out systemic racism

The overhaul comes three years after Peel Regional Police signed an agreement with the Ontario Human Rights Commission to change how policing in Peel is managed.

As part of that agreement, the results of a survey were released at the end of 2021, which painted a picture of a region where residents believed there was a significant need for police reform.

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The survey, made public at the end of 2021, found 55 per cent of the 1,102 people polled believed Peel Regional Police needed reform.

Read more: Durham, Peel police face scrutiny over Black History Month-themed cruisers

The results of the survey, which was filled in by those who lived and worked in Peel, also showed disproportioned policing of the region’s Black population.

Police interactions broken down by race found Black respondents represented 36 per cent of those arrested and 23 per cent of those stopped or approach by a police officer in Mississauga or Brampton.

In previous years, the force had also come under fire for the now-banned practice of random street checks.

Data from Peel police showed 21 per cent of 159,303 street checks conducted from 2009 to 2014 involved Black people. According to census from 2011, Black people made up just nine per cent of the population of Brampton and Mississauga.

Read more: Carding to continue in Peel after police chief rejects recommendation

In that broader context, the new committee will rely on members and experts to apply its human rights lens to policing.

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“As part of developing its mandate and approach, the Committee will retain a third-party academic with expertise in human rights and governance to help re-define the committee’s mandate, review existing Board policies from a human rights perspective,” a Peel police news release said.

The chair of the Peel Regional Police Services Board, Ron Chatha, said tackling anti-Black racism could not “be done as a one-time project.”

Read more: Family of police shooting victim says lack of social supports makes systemic racism worse

However, some community members are yet to be convinced Peel Regional Police or its board are ready to change.

Dave Bosveld, a Black advocate who has called for change at Peel police and is running to be a trustee at the Peel District School Board, told Global News trust had been lost.

“If it took this long to get them to adjust their thinking, we can be pleased with this shift but it’s difficult to trust that they know how to deal with the complexities of this issue given their ongoing resistance to anything that resembles criticism,” he said.

He noted the media release and solutions pitched do not specify Black representation. “That is a large missing piece here,” he added.

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