EDITORIALS

RACIAL PROFILING vs TACTICAL CRIME ANALYSIS

Racial profiling.

Just say the words and watch the contortions on the faces of the politically correct champions of Justice.

Like it or not, race is a big issue in the Province of Manitoba, even more so after the release of Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers report that highlights a forty (40%) percent increase in the incarcerated Aboriginal offender population between 2001 & 2010.

HOWARD SAPERS - GOV OF CANADA PHOTO
HOWARD SAPERS – GOV OF CANADA PHOTO

Alarming statistics show Aboriginal people’s make up just four (4%) percent of the Canadian population yet account for a staggering twenty-three (23%) of the federal prison population.  That means almost one (1) in every four (4) Federal inmates come from Aboriginal origins.

Sapers also reports Aboriginal inmates are sentenced to longer terms, spend more time in segregation and maximum security, are less likely to be granted parole and are more likely to have their parole revoked for minor infractions.

If you didn’t know it, the City of Winnipeg happens to be home to one of the largest urban Aboriginal populations in the Country.

There can be no doubt that Aboriginal offenders significantly contribute to Winnipeg’s designation of murder, robbery and violent crime capital of Canada.  A quick glance at the 2012 murder statistics tells us that Aboriginal offenders played a predominant role in last years killings.  Aboriginal victims continue to be over-represented in both the solved and unsolved murder categories.

The Winnipeg Police Service simply cannot afford to ignore these numbers.

Nor should they ignore statistics related to black offenders documented in Sapers 2011-2012 annual report which indicates a 69% rise in incarcerated black offender populations in the Federal prison system over the last decade.

Sapers statistics show there were 766 black inmates in the Federal prison system in 2000-2001.  That number increased to 1,294 by 2010-2011.  Black citizens make up only 2.5% of the Canadian population yet represent over 9% of the Federal inmate population.  The majority of these individuals are incarcerated in Ontario (60%) and Quebec (18%) but it would be foolish to think that Manitoba is immune to this phenomena.

The Philosopher Chief, Devon Clunis, recently delivered a keynote address where he shared his vision for a new approach to crime fighting in Winnipeg.  “We’re not going to arrest these issues away,” he said.

POLICE CHIEF DEVON CLUNIS (PHOTO JGJ)
POLICE CHIEF DEVON CLUNIS (PHOTO JGJ)

He then shared his vision of a Police Service more focused on prevention and community involvement, “Crime prevention thru social development.”

Clunis acknowledged social issues are not burdens that can be “fully owned” by the Police Service but did indicate his willingness to address the factors that drive crime by taking the initiative to be “catalysts for change.”  

The question I would ask is how does the Police Service address the factors that drive crime unless they’re prepared to do the work that identifies what those factors are?

Time for some racial profiling.

Causation, or the factors that drive crime are not always easy to identify.  My experience in Policing tells me that substance abuse, (alcohol & drugs) organized crime and street gangs are primary causation factors.  Experience happens to be an extremely undervalued commodity and doesn’t often drive change or influence policy.

That’s unfortunate because the people with all the experience are the front line police officers who fight the war against crime every day.  The ones who attend the horrific crime scenes and deal with the aftermath of the blunt force trauma, stab wounds and bullet holes.  The ones who put the handcuffs on the gang bangers, habitual offenders and sex trade workers.  The ones who sit in the interview rooms and interrogate the offenders.  The ones who see the carnage left behind by people with raging crack or alcohol addictions.

The police officers are the ones who see it, know it and live it.  Ask any WPS officer what factors drive crime and be prepared to listen.  They’ll fill your ears.  Problem is, they don’t have a voice.  Hard data and statistics are the only things that move people in positions of authority to act or effect change.

Time for some racial profiling.

If Chief Clunis wants to be a catalyst for change then he needs to get to work. He needs to start gathering the facts that can help us diagnose and treat the sickening crime problem that’s plaguing our City.

Information relating to gang involvement, race, sex, age, community, employment status, use of drugs or alcohol and type of substance used are all relevant factors that could help identify issues that drive crime.

This type of data could be critically important to:

  •  Provide hard data to identify criminal demographics and enable Law Enforcement to be catalysts for change in over represented groups
  • Provide hard data to confirm addiction is the primary driver of crime and to underpin the argument to substantially increase funding for addiction treatment
  • Provide hard data to identify trends in substance abuse, prompt law enforcement initiatives, addiction intervention and education, influence social programs
  • Provide hard data regarding gang involvement and trends, gather critical intelligence to aid law enforcement for gang intervention and prevention, to assist prosecutions and support Government initiatives like Safer Communities
  • Provide hard data to demonstrate the need for intensive anti poverty and employment strategies

If you haven’t guessed it by now, I’m not really taking about racial profiling.  I’m talking enhancing crime analysis functions the Police Service are already performing.

I know defenders against the “Police State” will be up in arms regarding the suggestion to collect this type of data.  The fact is, the results of Mr Sapers report simply can’t be ignored any longer.  The problem is, the report only addresses post offense issues.

“Crime Prevention through social development,” requires an innovative proactive approach.

If Chief Clunis wants the Police to be “catalysts for change,” then its time to start collecting the hard data that will truly motivate Government and force over represented groups to start taking ownership of the inconvenient statistical truth.

Maybe the time has come for a little crime prevention through “reality based tactical crime analysis.”

7 Comments

  1. James G Jewell

    @ fruits of life;

    My story focused on the alarming statistics identified in the Saper report.

    1 in 4 Federal inmates have Aboriginal origins

    Black inmates represent 9% of the prison population but just 2.5% of the Canadian population

    My story suggests we can no longer afford to ignore these significant numbers and trends.

    I think you misunderstood the point I was trying to make in my story. It really wasn’t about racial profiling.

    The “Enhanced crime analysis functions” I mention are not designed to be used for front line Policing, quite the contrary. They would be designed to motivate Government and Leaders in the overrepresented groups to take ownership of the issues that are contributing to the trend. Issues like poverty, drug and alcohol addiction, gang involvement.

    We need to start putting as much money into prevention as we do for incarceration.

    I have a great deal of respect for Chief Clunis.

    His “crime prevention through social development” strategy is a courageous attempt to make change. The only question I have is will that vision be supported to the extent that change can occur.

    One thing is certain, we can’t arrest our way out of the problem.

    Thank you for commenting.

  2. Fruits_of_Life, I find it interesting that your retort to my comments and to the article stereotypes police officers. “Stereotypes lead to social categorization, which is one of the reasons for prejudice attitudes…” against police officers who are, for the most part, working very hard, risking their lives, to remove criminals from our streets and make life safer for all of us. Attitudes such as yours perpetuate a lack of respect for law enforcement professionals that leads to chaos, violence and lawlessness on our streets and in our society.

    I ask you to rethink your argument and open your mind to the idea that while there are definitely “bad cops” out there, the majority are good people trying their best to keep criminals from doing harm to others.

  3. fruits_of_life

    Are you implying Chief Devon Clunis “Vision”, is flawed? The appointment of Chief Devon Clunis is viewed by some as a breath of fresh air to the Winnipeg Police Service and it appears he is on the right path, and doing his part within his area of control.

    Your vision of “Enhancing crime analysis functions” (or “racial profiling”) can be argued to be logically flawed. There is significant evidence that racial profiling is neither an efficient nor an effective practice. It shows that racial profiling comes with a huge price tag to individuals, families and communities while negatively impacting the very institutions that practice it.

    Police officers, like most people, are socialized in both personal and professional settings, which affects their decision-making. This outlook may also be reinforced through socialization into the police culture through
    the use of war stories that not only teach lessons, but also provide officers with a world-view of the streets.

    Isolation of police from the community has created a sense of solidarity amongst the police and create the “blue wall of silence.”

    To engage in behavior that results in racial profiling, officers act on the negative imprint of stereotypical views of minorities, the types of vehicles they might drive, driver characteristics,and other symbols/cues.

    Officers can act upon these cues when deciding to stop minorities for minor traffic infractions under the legally sanctioned tactic of pretext but within their use of discretion. Once this pretextual stop has been
    made, an investigation into possible criminality is done often only based on the officer’s negative perceptions of the driver. Such tactics fuel the racial profiling debate.

    Not surprisingly, racial stereotypes always seem to favor the race of the holder and belittle other races.

    Amber’s comment is a good example of racial sterotyping; Her belief that particular ethnic groups held particular characteristics still existed.

    By stereotyping we infer that a person has a whole range of characteristics and abilities that we assume all members of that group have. Stereotypes lead to social categorization, which is one of the reasons for prejudice attitudes (i.e. “them” and “us” mentality) which leads to in-groups and out-groups.

  4. Lets make it unanimous.

  5. Couldn’t agree more with Amber. An eloquent take on the issues. The best way to tackle crime is strengthening families. Breaking generational patterns is tough work, but it’s the only way forward.

  6. Taking ownership, a simple yet rarely applied concept.

    Thank you very much for your comment…

  7. Crime prevention starts in the home with children being raised in loving, caring environments that foster their self worth and thus equips them with the ability to make good choices in their lives. That, of course, is not possible in homes plagued with drug and alcohol addictions, abuse and neglect.

    In addition to the police, legal, and social systems doing their parts, groups over-represented in the crime statistics need to look inward for ways to empower themselves as people. Movements like Idle No More do well to bring attention to the overall plight of Aboriginal people, however they only continue to feed the victimization of those people by only focusing outwards to the government and society to fix their problems. Aboriginal leaders pay much of their attention to fighting for more land and financial restitution for the sins of governments and religious leaders past rather than turning inwards to their own people and empowering them to make positive changes for themselves. Those leaders should be turning the spotlight on corrupt chiefs and band councils, developing action plans for their communities, instilling pride and self-respect in their people and tolerating nothing less from them, banding together to rid their communities of gangs, abusers and criminals, and most importantly, focusing on the future and not the past.

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