RCMP launches pilot to address ‘systemic racism’ in their policing

RCMP launches pilot to address ‘systemic racism’ in their policing

The RCMP is collecting race-based data from its employees to better serve Canada’s diverse population, according to a pilot project.

According to an RCMP press release, the force will start collecting data this month on ethnicity recorded during arrests, the use of force and routine checks. 

“Specifically, this will: Identify differences in policing outcomes for Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities; Better understand the nature, extent and impact of systemic racial disparities in community safety; Enable data-driven decision making and policy development; Build trust with communities; Improve community safety outcomes,” reads the RCMP statement.

Fort McMurray, Alberta, as well as Thompson, Manitoba and Whitehorse, Yukon are the first sites for the pilot. More are expected for later this year.

Former RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki prompted two years of consultations to rectify supposed systemic racism within the force. She gave the example of their six-foot broad jump requirement for recruits. 

“Evidence told us that the average person can broad jump their height,” said Lucki. “There are people in all different cultures that may not be six feet, including not a lot of women that are six feet tall — that would not be able to get through that type of test.”

According to a May 5 order paper question filed by Conservative MP John Brassard, the RCMP’s efforts will cost taxpayers $15.2 million until March 31, 2027.

Following George Floyd’s death in 2020, the RCMP aimed to build trust with communities and make informed policy decisions based on the data. However, the RCMP failed to provide True North with a definition of “systemic racism” last July in the outlet’s request for comment on the pilot.

“This initiative is an important milestone in becoming a more modern and inclusive policing organization,” said RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme.

In May, the management advisory board to the federal police board attributed underwhelming recruitment to shifting attitudes towards police and accusations of racism. 

“There is no question that recruitment is the top priority within the organization at this time, and we have been building and flying at the same time,” said RCMP chief HR officer Nadine Huggins.

All data collected and managed will adhere to the rules of the RCMP Act and the Privacy Act, according to the force. 

Data will be collected for one year before conducting an analysis that will be publicly disclosed without identifying any individuals. If considered a success, the pilot project will be rolled out nationwide.  

“The initiative isn’t about singling out individuals,” clarified Duheme. “It’s about helping us identify and improve our policies, practices and training to better support our employees.”

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