Repentigny police launch action plan after release of report into racial profiling

Black people in Repentigny, Que. are 2.5 to three times more likely to be arrested than their fellow residents.

It's a terrifying statistic for those living in the suburb -- off the northeast tip of the Island of Montreal -- from a report commissioned by the Repentigny police (SPVR).

"I don’t feel comfortable. I don’t know how they’re going to treat me when they see me,” said one resident.

“When they see Black people if you have dreds or things like this they’re going to arrest you more quickly than other people,” said another. 

The report comes after a slew of criticism, lawsuits and human rights complaints against the SPVR for racial profiling.

SPVR chief Helen Dion said she knows where to focus her energy.

"We can’t deny that racial profiling does exist," she said. "We also admit that we did [make] some mistakes with the street checks.”

The report says that it is "undeniable" that Black Repentigny residents face a "disparity of treatment" compared to white people.

There is, however, a plan in place for change.

The force has been working with an agency to come up with a strategy to fight discrimination.

“It goes beyond racial profiling," said Dafina Savic, co-founder of the social impact agency, UENA. "We’re tackling the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the service."

UENA helps organizations turn their values into inclusive actions.

Savic said the plan is different from others in that it was tailor-made for the Repentigny police.

It will also be monitored and followed by third parties.

"As a social impact agency, it’s really important for us that demonstrate genuine desire to change, and that’s one of our requirements as an organization and we’re really pleased to see that from the police force here,” said Savic.

The SPVR is giving itself five years to implement 50 actions, which include working with more social workers, better training for officers, more communication with the public and making a better effort to recruit more people of colour.

The goal is to try and make their community safer for everyone.