Peel Police Board Calls for Audit of Diversity-Equity Practices

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The Peel police board has called for an independent audit of the force's diversity and equity practices, the Toronto Star reports.

The call follows a critique of Chief Jennifer Evans by a local anti-discrimination group.

"We feel that Peel police has to acknowledge that there is racism before they're willing to do anything about it," Ranjit Khatkur, chair of the Peel Coalition Against Racialized Discrimination (P-CARD), told the board at its meeting, as reported by The Star. The newspaper reports that Khatkur said her group's report, which outlines examples of misconduct and inequality within the force, was meant to "highlight the lack of faith in the Peel chief's leadership."

The Star reports that Evans was not without her defenders. Amrik Ahluwalia, who was recently elected chair of the board, defended the chief by saying he had a lot of "trust and faith" in her. That said, other members of the board -- including Mayor Bonnie Crombie -- agreed with Khatkur's call to conduct an "independent, third-party audit to examine the force's hiring and promotion practices, as well as gender and sexual harassment issues and its entire equity performance."

Peel police have been under intense scrutiny from some groups for some time now.

Last year, The Star published some disturbing data that showed that black residents of Brampton and Mississauga were three times more likely than white residents to be carded by Peel police. The Star later reported that in 2010, only 13 per cent of the force's uniformed officers were visible minorities, a startling discrepancy in a distinctly diverse region of Canada.

Khatkur said that her group has been approached by officers with complaints about "nepotism and cronyism" in the force in regards to hiring and promotions practices. The article mentions that there's currently a case before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal regarding a systemic racism allegation against the police force and its board. Staff Sgt. B.J. Sandhu is alleging that the "institutionalized culture of discrimination within the force" denied him a promotion. Peel police have denied the allegations.

Crombie said an independent audit will help the board achieve clarity on how the force operates.

"Peel police are reporting that they are undertaking a number of measures with respect to diversity and equity within the force," Crombie told The Star. "While I respect their efforts, it is our job as Peel Police Services Board members to ensure that these measures are having the desired effect... We've heard from some in the community, including P-CARD, that they do not feel their voice is being heard within Peel Police and that these programs may not be having the desired effect."

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