Peel police used force on Black people 3.2 times more often than their share of the population in 2021, a disproportionate amount only slightly lower than the same statistic from 2020, according to a new report presented to the police services board Friday.

Peel officers were also 3.7 times more likely to use force on Black people — who made up less than 10 per cent of Peel’s population in 2016, the last Census year available — than white people, per the data.

Meanwhile, Peel police used force on East and Southeast Asians 1.7 times more often than their population share, while the demographic least likely to have force used on them by Peel police were South Asians — representing 11 per cent of the use-of-force instances but 33 per cent of the population.

The numbers are not a surprise to both police and the community — and they support long-known anecdotal reports. The question remains why it continues and whether efforts to make change are showing success.

“It demonstrates that we have a long way to go. The changes we’ve seen are really incremental,” said Len Carby, co-chair of the recently formed Anti-Racism Advisory Committee (ARAC), an arms-length public group established to provide advice and feedback on Peel police’s anti-racism efforts, in an interview.

“The community is impatient,” he added Thursday night after a private meeting with Peel police senior brass to go over the findings in the report. “We’ve been waiting a long time to see change.”

Since January 2020, police have been mandated by the province to note the perceived race of anyone against whom police use certain forms of force: when an officer fires or draws their gun; draws or uses a Taser; uses a baton, pepper spray or other weapon; or uses physical force that results in an injury that needs medical attention.

Similar data released for 2020 this year by Toronto police shows that Toronto officers used force on Black people about four times more often than their share of the population and that Black Torontonians were five times more likely to have force used against them than white ones.

The Peel data shows police pulled firearms on Blacks 40.9 per cent of the time, compared to 26.6 per cent for Whites, 39.8 per cent for East and Southeast Asians and 37.7 per cent against South Asians.

Tasers were used 70 per cent of the time against Blacks, compared to 66. 5 per cent of the time for whites and 54.7 per cent against South Asians.

Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said the report findings are important but admitted the data does not provide an explanation for the disparities.

“The value of the data is to point to a need for change,” Duraiappah said.

But the force needs to go further to “get to what does it mean and why?”

Duraiappah, who was recently appointed president of the Ontario Association Chiefs of Police said while the full explanation for the ongoing disparity is unclear, we “acknowledge that there are controllable elements that we can do.”

He said his message to the Black community in Peel, is “we’re not waiting”, pointing to ongoing efforts to acknowledge the lived experience of racialized groups, change hiring practises and train officers about biases.

There were 1121 use of force applications documented by Peel Police in 2021 — meaning each time a form of force that must be recorded was used — and 209 injuries requiring medical attention reported.

The most common three were deploying a Taser (228 times), drawing a Taser (210 times) and pointing a firearm at a person (209 times). There were only two instances of Peel Police firing a handgun at a person in 2021, both in the same incident where a man and woman were fleeing in a car. There were no injuries and the provincial police watchdog determined that no charges should be laid.

Of 940 use of force instances where the perceived race of the person was documented, 289 involving Black people compared to 271 involving white people. Nine involved Indigenous people.

There was an overall drop of 15 per cent in use-of-force applications across all racial groups combined from 2020.

The report touts that from about 6,700 calls for service involving persons in crisis, there were only 48 use-of-force incidents — though the data does provided does not cover the severity or nature of the force used.

Peel police have faced community scrutiny after a series of high-profile police killings of men in crisis, including Ejaz Choudry, D’Andre Campbell and Jamal Derek Francique Jr.

And a recent inquest into two Peel officers fatally shooting Marc Ekamba, a Black Mississauga man, in 2015 called on police to overhaul their use of force standards and introduce regular officer training on dealing with people of colour and those facing a mental health crisis.

Those deaths are front of mind in the push for progress, Duraiappah said. According to the report de-escalation strategies were used 88 per cent of the time before force was used.

He and other senior Peel officers point to their new anti-racist training model begun in 2020 and their goal to have about two-thirds of the service made up of underrepresented groups by 2025 — as of 2021 they had reached almost 53 per cent, according to the report.

All new hires are now tested for any red flags linked to racial misconduct and propensity for excessive force, Supt. Dirk Niles, one of the lead officers involved in the report, said in an interview.

All front-line officers have also now completed a mandatory four day mental health training, with an emphasis on de-escalation, he said.

Occurrences of firearms pointed at person decreased from 248 in 2020 to 209 in 2021 and 63 fewer officers involved in use-of-force in 2021 compared to 2020, he said.

“This isn’t something we’re looking to celebrate, it’s simply telling us, we’re on the right track,” Niles said.

The report also stressed that all Peel Regional Police officers have completed crisis de-escalation training for interactions with children under 12 years of age that is focused on approaching all calls involving children under 12 are dealt with as “a behavioural issue and not a criminal matter.”

The training came as a response to the 2020 Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario finding that race was a factor when police handcuffed and shackled the ankles of a 6-year-old Black girl at a Mississauga school in 2016. The tribunal awarded her $35,000.

“There’s more to do, but without a doubt, we’re on it,” Duraiappah said.

Meanwhile, ARAC — the community committee — will be examining the data in more detail and making recommendations to Peel police.

“There are all these reasons why that we don’t know yet. It’s just the beginning,” Committee member Deborah Buchanan-Walford said.

There are positive signs that the leadership is willing to make the changes needed, Carby said.

“The work of this committee is going to be driven by what the community says that they need,” added Alicia Ralph, ARAC co-chair.

Following the presentation of the report to the Peel Police Services Board on Friday morning, board member Ron Chatha said there’s still a lot of work to be need, but the commitment by the board and the police to address systemic racism is strong.

Toronto police released a landmark report earlier this year that went beyond the use-of-force reports and used internal police data to analyze strip-searches and other “enforcement actions” by racial disparity, as well as the nature of interactions — revealing that a Toronto officer was more than twice as likely to draw a firearm on a Black person they thought was unarmed than a white person they thought was unarmed.

That level of detail was not part of the Peel police release.

Peel Regional Police did not want to go into detail about what their Toronto neighbours have done, but Supt. Niles said the Ministry of the Solicitor General is in the process of updating their use-of-force forms to reflect more metrics, including a deeper dive into areas like neighbourhood level information.

The ministry said Friday said a modernization process for the forms is underway.

“We should be mad at these numbers, particularly Black people, because we’re the highest disproportionality,” said Lorne Foster, a York University professor, who was brought in by the service to develop a data collection strategy.

In his view far more could be done internally to explore why the disparities continue beyond the ministry tacking on a box for officer’s perception of race on a pre-exisitng use-of-force data tool.

“What I really want to know, as a Black person, is, how many times does an officer draw a weapon against Black people that have no weapons?” Foster said.

“Excessive use-of-force is the issue,” he said. “The current format for collecting data can’t show us all of the excessive and unnecessary use-of-force.”

He said the onus is on police to step outside the boundaries of the ministry’s mandate to show leadership in collecting this data.

“I hope these forces aren’t trying to give the impression, that it’s because of the government, that they haven’t done great job, because they can go beyond what the Solicitor General has instructed them to do, already,” Foster said.

Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. Reach him on email: or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic