35,000 stops recorded in first six months of race data collection project

In the first six months of the Ottawa Police traffic stop race data collection project 35,000 traffic stops have been recorded and officers have entered their perception of the driver's race in 90 per cent of those stops.

They're filling out all eight required fields in 80 per cent of the stops. The project's coordinator, Insp. Pat Flanagan attributed the missing data to four things: training problems, day to day challenges facing patrol officers, computer glitches and emergency calls that pull an officer away from a traffic stop.

The data collection project was ordered by the Ontario Human Rights Commission in a settlement following complaints of racial profiling by local police officers.

But the Ottawa Police Service has expanded it to the largest study of its kind and they've changed the goal of the project, in part, with the help of the community. The goal now is to use the data to shape not only Ottawa Police policy but the policies of police services across the country.

To do that, the data entry is essential because there needs to be as complete a collection of information as possible.

Flanagan explained even though the project is already underway it will continue to involve the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the research team from York University, police officers, the Police Services Board and the community.

"All those players will play a key role in developing the project and where that takes us down the road and that includes such things as how we measure success of the project, what type of data we want to analyze and what the report will eventually look like," said Flanagan.

Consultations helped shape what information is now being collected and, at Thursday night's meeting, community members made suggestions for how the data should be used once it's complete.

The suggestions included updating diversity training for Ottawa Police Service members and creating a liaison program with community leaders among dozens of other ideas that will be collected and used to shape next steps.

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