Waterloo Region Police Board formalizes race-based statistics collection plan

WATERLOO REGION — The police board voted on Wednesday to formalize a partnership between police and two professors to manage the collection of race-based data by Waterloo Regional Police.

The move allows Lorne Foster and Les Jacobs to guide the force in its race-based data collection, which includes collecting use-of-force data and intelligence memos as it relates to race.

Foster is a professor in York University’s School of Public Policy and Administration and director of the school’s Institute for Social Research. Jacobs is Vice President of Research and Innovation at Ontario Tech University.

The strategy and the partnership were a response to the Anti-Racism Act, a provincial law passed in 2017 that requires institutions, like the police, to collect race-based data to measure, monitor and eliminate systemic racism.

The two professors partnered with Waterloo Regional Police last December to develop a race-based data collection strategy.

“This is a really big commitment,” Regional Chair Karen Redman said of the policy.

Police have collected and released data on intelligence memos and use of force in an attempt to address systemic racism in the service, as required by the province.

The Record reported that police disproportionately took black intelligence notes last year, data the service began collecting in 2018.

Police began including race in use of force reports in early 2020. These reports are reviewed internally to determine whether the use of force was justified. In the first three months of 2022, the number of people considered black who were subjected to a use of force by police jumped by around 6%.

There has been a decrease in the number of use of force incidents involving people perceived to be Middle Eastern and South Asian.

The data is available, but Chief Bryan Larkin said there’s still a long way to go to figure out the numbers.

“We know this (eradicating racism) will not happen overnight,” he said at his last police board meeting before leaving for a new job on July 3 as a RCMP Deputy Commissioner.

Foster and Jacobs want the force to hold community consultations this fall to shape the implementation of strategy and policy.