Police and racial profiling, still an effort

On December 6, 2021, approximately 200 residents of Quebec from all ethnic backgrounds marched to demand recognition of police racial profiling. As if by chance, three days later, on December 9, 2021, the Police Department of Quebec City (SPVQ) announced, without making it public, “a development plan for better police practices”. This lack of transparency on the part of the SPVQ does not bode well for rebuilding trust with the population of Quebec City.

Never mind, a press release tells us that this plan has four components, one of which is of particular interest to us. This is the fourth component, which aims to carry out ad hoc surveys in order to measure the degree of confidence of the “population of the agglomeration” in the SPVQ. As it admitted at the outset, the SPVQ is aware that the recent highly publicized events of police brutality and racial profiling, at least in one of the videos, of some of its police officers may have affected citizens’ confidence in the service. from police.

Of course, the survey is one of the tools that the SPVQ, like any other organization, can use to measure the public’s perception of it. However, with regard to racial profiling, the SPVQ should avoid the selection bias of slipping a question into a survey intended for the entire population of the city when the majority population is not affected by racial profiling. It goes without saying that white people have never been profiled on the basis of their skin color, especially since very few of them have ever encountered the police. As a result, their perception of the police could be colored by their personal experience free from any racial profiling. The SPVQ would be happy to use such a biased result in order to disqualify the claims aimed at countering racial profiling and to deny the existence of the problem in Quebec.

It would therefore be appropriate for the SPVQ to conduct a specific survey intended for Indigenous and racialized communities that have a particular relationship with the police. Better yet, a survey on racial profiling should target more specifically racialized men who would be the most profiled in Quebec. These methodological precautions would make it possible to obtain relevant data on the perception of the police in racialized communities, and among Aboriginals in particular, with regard to racial profiling.

In addition, the SPVQ would be daring and open by going beyond a simple survey on perceptions. He could commission an independent study on police racial profiling in Quebec, like those done in Repentigny and Montreal, in order to enlighten the population of Quebec on this phenomenon which compromises social cohesion and affects the bond of trust in them. The evidence from this study will undoubtedly make it possible to measure the extent and manifestations of racial profiling within the SPVQ, to get out of the dialogue of the deaf between people of color and the SPVQ, and to have recommendations that would allow us to ” develop an action plan against racial profiling. Do not wait until we have a dead man like in Repentigny and Montreal to react. It is time for Quebec City to recognize police racial profiling and to commit to combating it.

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