Friday, November 20, 2009

New acronym: PWW (Policing When White)

I love new acronyms, like LOL (laughing out loud) and FYI (for your information).

As a result of series of stories a few years ago in one of Toronto’s major newspapers, the Toronto police were caught in racial profiling. The acronym that was popularized by that scandal was BWD (black while driving).

As a result of two recent decisions of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal – no, really, it is actually called that – we can add a new one: PWW (policing when white).

In the summer, the tribunal adjudicated the complaint of a black man who was stopped by a police officer while he was delivering mail in high class neighbourhood. We have community policing here, and the white officer in question did not recognize the man who was wearing a postal service jacket and who was substituting for the regular postie who was off sick. He noticed the man return to a house he had already visited, so he asked him for some identification, which was produced, without incident, and the postie was thanked by the policeman for his co-operation and everybody went about their own business.

It would appear that the postal worker went back to the shop and told his fellow workers about the incident. They proceeded to tease him about it to the point that he decided to complain to the human rights police about racial discrimination, because he was made to feel bad about being black (not by the police, mind you, but by his fellow workers). The tribunal found there was no racial discrimination involved on the part of the policeman, but that he had “racially profiled” the postie, and an award of $10,000 was given to the black man.

In a similar award, $5,000 was given to a black woman who was ticketed by a white police officer for a number of offences related to her operation of a motor vehicle. In the wee small hours of the morning the officer observed her driving erratically and confronted her. She was uncooperative and matters escalated, as they tend to do when people do not cooperate with the police when they are simply doing what they are supposed to be doing.

Apparently, she had not viewed Chris Rock’s sensitivity training video.

Again, the tribunal could find no evidence of racial discrimination on the part of the officer, but fined the police anyway, claiming there was racial profiling involved.

Would these outcomes have applied if a black police officer was involved? Can black policemen be accused of “racially profiling”?

Stand by.

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