Time for an uncomfortable police conversation in the Waterloo Region

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Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin says the region should not shy away from uncomfortable conversations about how we police our communities. 

Waterloo Regional Police have released use of force statistics with race-bias data included, for the first time ever. The statistics show 244 instances during which a police officer drew a gun, a taser, a baton, or other means of physical force while responding to a call for service. 

Black people in Waterloo Region are over-represented in police use-of-force incidents. Despite making up only three per cent of the region’s population, incidents where the subject was perceived as Black accounted for 16 per cent of all means of force incidents by the Waterloo Regional Police.  

In 66 per cent of all instances when means of force was used, the subject was perceived as white. White people make up 80 percent of the Waterloo region’s population. on. 

These findings are common, and they demonstrate the need for the serious conversations being held about police brutality and the policing of our communities. The recent shift to more openly address racial biases in policing is long overdue, but has just gained serious attention in the summer of 2020, following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May of this year. 

However, the shift is losing its momentum as city councillors back down from pledges to defund Waterloo’s police department. Chief of Police Bryan Larkin of the Waterloo region has contrary beliefs: he welcomes the increased attention towards the police service, but warns about drawing conclusions from a small set of numbers.