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Montreal Police Are Guilty Of Systemic Racial Bias, An Explosive New Report Says

Visible minorities are 2 to 5 times more likely to be stopped by the SPVM.
Staff Writer
Montreal Police Are Guilty Of "Systemic Racial Bias" An Explosive New Report Says
  • An explosive new report from 3 independent scholars found that "systemic racial bias" persists among the Montreal police force.
  • Visible minorities are many times more likely to be stopped by police than white people, the report states.
  • The Montreal police chief has promised to take action to address the issue.

A report from three independent Montreal researchers has revealed a staggering systemic bias in the SPVM. The report indicates that some visible minorities are 2 to 5 times more likely to be stopped or arrested. 

Conducted by Victor Armony at the UQAM sociology department, Mariam Hassaoui of Université TELUQ and Massimiliano Mulone of the Université de Montréal’s school of criminology, the report doesn't say that the SPVM racially profiles people, but says black people, Arab people, and Indigenous people are victims of a "systemic racial bias," according to Radio-Canada

The report found that arrests increased by 143% between 2014 and 2017. Arrests against minorities, in particular, increased exponentially during this period. The report mentions that the black population is "disproportionately challenged" by police in Montreal. 

According to Global NewsIndigenous women are one of the most targeted groups. They are 11 times more likely to be stopped than white women.

The report concluded with five recommendations for the SPVM. Among them: to implement a policy on how officers question people.

SPVM police chief Sylvain Caron said he was "very concerned" by these results, according to reports, and pledged to take action. 

This is not the first time the issue of bias among SPVM officers has received widespread attention.

Last month, a Quebec judge approved a class-action lawsuit against the city of Montreal and the SPVM in response to an alleged racial profiling case in 2017. 

In August, a man was fined nearly $500 by the SPVM for what the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) called "cleaning while black." 

In lieu of concrete policy, the SPVM endorses a mandate from the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec. "The SPVM stipulates that the services provided by the entire staff in all interactions with citizens be free from racial profiling," says the SPVM website. 

A report from CBC News states that while "one out of three" Montrealers identifies as a visible minority, less than 8% of the SPVM force is non-white.

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People of Arab origin, black people and Indigenous people are between two and five times more likely to be stopped by police, says Global News, summarizing the report.

In 2016, visible minorities made up 34.2% of the population of Montreal. Though the SPVM has clear problems with representation and disproportionately detains visible minorities, the report didn't use the term racial profiling. 

The report concluded with five recommendations for the SPVM: 

  • To adopt a policy on questioning;

  • To publish an annual public report on statistics and treatment of minorities;

  • To develop procedures against racial profiling;

  • To integrate the issue of racial profiling in all training, plans, programs, and the like;

  • To integrate training against systemic bias in all police training. 

The full report (in French only) is available on the SPVM's website.

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