“As an organization, we have not done enough to ensure fair and impartial policing for everyone in our city,” Chief James Ramer said at a news conference.
“For this, as the chief of police and on behalf of the service, I am sorry and offer my unconditional apologies.”
Police forces across the province of Ontario were mandated in 2019 to collect data on the race of people against whom officers used physical force or drew their weapons.
This came after a human rights commission found that blacks, who make up 8.8 percent of the city’s six million residents, were nearly 20 times more likely than whites to be shot by Toronto police officers.
The new police data was for 2020, the same year George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer, Minnesota, sparking global outrage and protests across the continent.
It showed that blacks were 2.2 times more likely to have interactions with officers and 1.6 times more likely to use violence against them.
Ramer said the police data is “difficult and inconvenient” and “confirms what racialized communities, especially black and indigenous communities, have been telling us for decades, that they are disproportionately overburdened.”
He said police are grappling with “the complexities of systemic racism” and acknowledged that confrontations with authorities can have “a profound impact” on a person’s life and erode trust in the police.
“We will do everything we can to resolve this mess,” he said.
At a tense moment during the press conference, activist Beverly Bain of the No Pride in Policing Coalition responded directly to the chief: “We do not accept your apology,” as she renewed calls to downgrade the police.
“What we’ve asked you is to stop mistreating us, to stop killing us, to stop carding us, to stop constantly holding us back and killing our children, our black sons and black harassing daughters,” she said.
“What we got instead is a lot more police.”