Official Position on “Racial Profiling”

The Association of Black
Law Enforcers
Official Position on “Racial Profiling”
In Canada
2003

Preamble

Long before the print media series on “Race and Crime” was published in the fall of 2002, the Association of Black Law Enforcers (A.B.L.E.) had acknowledged the various disparate issues affecting the Black community within the criminal justice system. For the past year we have actively contributed to and participated in the various community and governmental initiatives that arose as a result of the “revelation” of “Racial Profiling”. We wanted to take this opportunity to formally state our position on racial profiling to the community.

The complex issues involved in “Racial Profiling” are not new to members of the African Canadian community, they are the latest manifestation of a long history of a sometimes tense, and even volatile, police/community relationship. This history has created a relationship between the police and our community that can be characterized as frail, lacking in real trust and overly sensitive to matters of race. A.B.L.E. believes that in order to build and maintain a meaningful relationship between law enforcement and the community the following elements must be nurtured and sustained:

  • Trust
  • Mutual Appreciation
  • Meaningful Consultation
  • Understanding

The members of our association understand that the vast majority of police
officers in our city, all the provinces and this country perform their duties in an honourable, ethical and professional manner. We believe this because we work with these officers and we are these officers.

We also understand that the subject of racial profiling is not just a policing issue, while cases where community members find themselves in a confrontation with an officer make the news, dozens of less extreme, yet troubling, examples occur every day:

  • Taxis that drive by only to be seen stopping for “safer” – looking people just up the street.
  • Being asked for multiple pieces of identification when making purchases with credit cards.
  • Being followed around a department store by salespeople and security while never being asked if you need any assistance.
  • Being detained for hours and extensively searched in an airport or train station.

We are qualified to make these statements because we live and work in two
worlds as Black law enforcers providing us with a unique perspective on the issues that face our community and our profession.

Position

A.B.L.E. accepts the presence of the law enforcement phenomenon known as “Racial Profiling”. We believe that in order to understand this issue and create a common shared understanding for all those involved, it must be defined. The definition of racial profiling that we have adopted is:

“Investigative or enforcement activity initiated by an individual officer based on his or her stereotypical, prejudicial or racist perceptions of who is likely to be involved in wrong doing or criminal activity. This conduct is systemically facilitated when there is ineffective policy, training, monitoring and control mechanisms in the system.”

The above definition is applicable to the actions of all members of federal,
provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies that have the authority to enforce laws and conduct investigations. This definition is also applicable to private protection entities (Toronto Community Housing Company Security, Toronto Transit Commission Security and private security companies) contracted by the government or property owners.

While the concept of “Racially Biased Policing” as articulated by the Police
Executive Research Forum and currently being adopted by some police services is acknowledged. We believe that the primary element of this issue is the sole reliance on race to guide law enforcement action and we are comfortable with the term racial profiling. We applaud the leadership shown by Chief Bill Closs and the members of the Kingston Police Service on this issue. While we do not necessarily endorse this method for all police services, there is certainly a need for some jurisdictions to consider the need for a similar approach given the frail nature of community/police relations.

A.B.L.E. supports the utilization of “Criminal Profiling” as a legitimate law
enforcement and investigative tool where the issue of race is relied on as a
descriptor within the profile and there is no primary reliance on race as a factor. Criminal profiling is divided into both “Inductive and Deductive Profiling” and can be defined as follows:

*Inductive Criminal Profiling is one that is generalized to an individual criminal from initial behavioural and demographic characteristics shared by other criminals who have been studied in the past. It is the product of incomplete, statistical analysis and generalization.

*Deductive Criminal Profiling is the process of interpreting forensic evidence, including such inputs as crime scene photographs, autopsy reports, autopsy photographs, and a thorough study of individual offender victimology, to accurately reconstruct specific offender crime scene behaviour patterns, and from those specific, individual patterns of behaviour, deduce offender characteristics.

Criminal profiling should be viewed as a multi-disciplinary forensic practice. It requires, at the very least, applied knowledge in criminalistics, medicolegal death investigation, and psychology. However, criminal profiling, even as defined, has not yet achieved the status of a pure science.

A.B.L.E. understands the value and risks posed by the collection of race based statistics, however there is a need for an appropriate mechanism to monitor and evaluate the effective management of racial profiling. “That which is not measured is not managed.”

A.B.L.E. is troubled by the connection being made between acts of violence
being perpetrated by the criminal element within the Black community and racial profiling. We reject the notion of “Black on Black” crime in that the term is pejorative and appears only to be reserved for use when young Black men take the lives of other young Black men. Race based terms are not used to describe violent crime that occurred in other racial or ethnic communities. For example when members of the Hells Angels and Rock Machine were killing each other in Quebec the situation was not referred to as “White on White” crime it was called a “Biker War”.

Proposal for Action

The convening of a conference or symposium with the police and the community on racial profiling with concrete recommendations and timelines for change to be adopted by police services.

Mentoring and job shadowing opportunities for Black officers in investigative areas of police services outside of undercover work and recruitment functions, i.e. detectives, homicide squads and command functions.

Ongoing documented monitoring in the areas of recruitment and promotion of Black officers especially as it relates to the “Big 12” police services and other law enforcement agencies in Ontario and nationally.

The development of a specific policy and training to address racial profiling.

The installation of cameras in all frontline police vehicles in Ontario.

The inclusion of definitions and circumstances on the professional traffic stop in the policing adequacy standards (Ontario).

A.B.L.E. will work with the government, our community and our agencies to
achieve our proposal for action. Based on our experience as Black law
enforcers and members of the Black community we are committed to working with agencies and the community to build and maintain meaningful relationships that will assist in addressing this issue and other common shared concerns. Long after this debate has ended we will still be here working for our services and living in our communities therefore, we are committed to working with all concerned parties.