27 May 2013
Executive Director, Ottawa Police Services Board
Chief of Police, Ottawa Police Service
TRAFFIC STOP RACE DATA COLLECTION PROJECT UPDATE
That the Ottawa Police Services Board receive this report for information.
Since last April, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) has been actively engaged with community partners, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), police members, and a research team from York University in the development and implementation of the Traffic Stop Race Data Collection Project (Project). The implementation of the Project is progressing well, and timelines are being met.
The Project is the result of an agreement between the OHRC and the Ottawa Police Services Board (Board). As per the agreement, officers will record their perception of driver race (by observation only) at traffic stops for a two-year period beginning on June 27, 2013. In addition to continuing our ongoing work to ensure bias-free policing, the OPS is looking to continue to promote trust and confidence in the police by addressing community concerns about racial profiling.
A full copy of the agreement along with other project resources is available online at ottawapolice.ca/race.
Starting on June 27, 2013, OPS officers will record their perception of driver race using the existing in-car computer system, as part of the regular process used for conducting all traffic stops. Project partners, including the OHRC, agree with the Research Team that leveraging the existing computer system for data collection not only makes sense from a time and cost perspective, but it offers a standard and consistent data collection process to support meaningful and measurable data.
The categories of race have been developed with the Research Team in consultation with the OHRC and community partners and are consistent with current policing practices. The recording of perception will be conducted in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code and applicable privacy legislation. The collection process has been designed to have minimal impact on regular duties and will not be noticeable to drivers. Drivers will not be asked to self-identify their own race because a person’s self identification of race is not relevant to this project.
The data will be made available to the OHRC at the conclusion of the two-year data collection period following the extraction and de-identification of the data. It will also be available publicly on ottawapolice.ca/race. In consultation with the Research Team, the data will be limited to relevant information required for analysis and will have no personal identifiers attached of either the driver or the officer.
The OPS conducts more than 50,000 traffic stops a year as part of policing duties, and this number is expected to fluctuate during the collection period.
Project updates have been provided on a regular basis to the Board and the community. This update will provide information on:
· The study design and research methodology that has been developed with significant community-police input;
· The preparations for the June 27th launch of the Project, including training and public education strategies; and
· The ongoing engagement and consultation program to support the development of the project over the next two years of data collection.
Consultation Process: Community and Police Input
The input of the community and members of the police has been instrumental in this Project’s advancement over the last year. In order to support this study, the OPS conducted extensive consultation. The ongoing consultation has fostered a stronger understanding of the project and a dialogue on the issues related to the study.
The project team has utilized a strong mix of engagement methods to ensure police and community members had the opportunity and time to provide feedback and ideas. The methods included project web page updates, questionnaires, focus groups, meetings, monthly presentations to the Community and Police Action Committee (COMPAC), presentations to other project partners, community ride-along opportunities with officers, social media forums, the development of a community-police advisory committee for the project, a joint member session with the Ottawa Police Association, and a community forum.
One of the important consultation milestones was the Let’s Chat Race ~ Have Your Say forum that was hosted by the OPS and the Board on January 31, 2013 at The RA Centre. Over-capacity, the session was attended by 165 participants representing 48 different organizations/groups. The session was another opportunity for the OPS and the Research Team to provide a project update and obtain another round of feedback, which strongly influenced the study design and methodology development. Go forward recommendations for key areas of the project included: quality assurance measures, regular communications, standardized training, and ongoing community-police engagement (See Annex A for the Executive Summary Report: Let’s Chat Race – Have Your Say).
The project team also met with the Kingston Police about their 2005 raced based data collection study – the only other race based study conducted in Canadian policing. In addition to reviewing the 2005 study, meetings were held with representatives from Kingston Police as well as the Kingston Police Association. The Research Team and the Kingston Police Association President provided presentations at the joint member consultation session with the Ottawa Police Association. The OPS also invited retired Kingston Police Chief Bill Closs to share his experiences about the study with the project team and members of the Community and Police Action Committee.
General themes derived from consultation efforts that have shaped the Project include:
Officer Perception of Race: The need for continuing public education and awareness about the project was identified by both community and police to ensure understanding about why the study is based on officer’s perception of race and not self-identification of the driver. This important feedback helped shaped training, public education and community engagement, as well as project communications materials.
Race Categories: The race categories for the data collection were developed by the Research Team in consultation with community and police members. The race categories are aligned with Canadian Census race and ethnicity categories to support benchmarking for the study.
Other Variables: Significant feedback from consultation efforts led to the identification of other variables for data collection: age, sex, location, reason for stop, and outcome of stop. Officers will also be able to record whether or not race was perceived prior to the decision to engage in a traffic stop. The project team worked with the Research Team to incorporate these additional variables into the study design within the parameters and limitations of the data collection system and project timelines.
Quality Assurance: Interest about data collection monitoring and quality control during the two year data collection period to ensure measurable and accurate data assisted with the design of comprehensive quality assurance measures for project team implementation.
Morale: Community and police members expressed interest in concern over the impact on officer morale during the study. It was suggested that the data collection process be user friendly and that the study not label individual officers.
Training: There was interest from both police and community members for an officer training package. Suggestions included that the training package be clear and user friendly. It should also be available to officers on an ongoing basis after the initial project launch. Questions about cultural awareness and diversity training were also received during the consultation process.
Privacy Concerns: There were privacy related concerns about access to the data and the need to protect officer and driver identities that shaped the data collection process and extraction rules to ensure that the data provided to the OHRC will not include officer or driver identifiers.
Engagement & Communications: There was significant interest to continue the police-community dialogue about racial profiling and the project during the two-year data collection period including the need for public education, special events and regular project updates.
As part of the agreement with OHRC, a Research Team from York University was engaged to help guide the project and provide expertise in the development of a methodology for the study. The Research Team includes:
· Dr. Lorne Foster ― a Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in Public Policy Administration and Law;
· Dr. Lesley Jacobs ― a Professor of Law & Society and Political Science, Academic Director/Executive Director of the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, and Co-Director of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s funded Cost of Justice project; and
· Dr. Bobby Siu – a Professor of the Graduate Program in Public Policy Administration.
The team was selected by a panel whose membership included representatives of the OPS, the OHRC and the community. They have been fully engaged in this project including the internal and external consultation activities to ensure that the research design and methodology is Ottawa based.
Research Study Methodology
The Research Design and Methodology was built on research practice, field experience and extensive community-police consultation efforts. The study will result in a management and engagement tool for monitoring and reviewing traffic stops. Two types of analysis will be conducted on race data collected in traffic stops:
(A) Representational analysis of the volume of traffic stops by race, sex and age; and
(B) Distributional analysis of the reasons and outcomes of traffic stops by race.
A) Representational Analysis: The objective of the representational analysis is to determine the representation of racial groups (broken down by sex and age) in traffic stops in Ottawa. Two sets of race data are needed for the purpose of this research – the race data of OPS based on traffic stops (“internal data”) and the driver population data of racial groups commuting to work collected through Census 2011 (“external data”).
The internal data will be collected by officers on their in-car laptop computer systems. This data will be cross-tabulated using selected variables:
· Based on existing OPS race categories, these race categories were developed via consultation: Aboriginal peoples, White, Black, East/Southeast Asian, South Asian, Middle-Easterners, and other racialized minorities. These categories are based on existing OPS race categories; and
· Sexes are male and female;
· Ages are ages “16-24”, “25-54” and “55+”;
· The geographic areas are Ottawa and the six police districts (defined by census tracts); and
· The time periods are year 1 (June 27, 2013 – June 26, 2014) and Year 2 (June 27, 2014 – June 26, 2015).
As per the settlement agreement, the race data is based on officer perception (by observation only). However, age and sex data will be collected through driver licences. In consultation with the Research Team, the procedures of data collection and entry will be standardized.
External aboriginal data and racialized minority data will be cross tabulated with the data on the population of drivers in Ottawa who use cars, trucks, vans, or motorcycles to get to work. The Research Team has recommended that this set of external data be used for comparative benchmarking as the best available benchmark. The “driver population – commute to work” by race may be adjusted based on data from other sources, if available and feasible.
B) Distributional Analysis: The objective of the distributional analysis is to determine the extent to which variations exist among racial groups on reasons for traffic stops and outcomes of traffic stops. The source of the data comes from the internal data from the OPS’ computerized operational data system. No external census data is needed.
The variables used in this distributional analysis are:
· The races of drivers are Aboriginal peoples, White, Black, East/Southeast Asian, South Asian, Middle-Easterner, and other racialized minorities;
· The geographic areas are Ottawa and the six police districts; and
· The time periods are year 1 (June 27, 2013 – June 26, 2014) and Year 2 (June 27, 2014 – June 26, 2015).
The indicators of both the reasons for and outcomes of traffic stops are selected to ensure that these indicators are mutually exclusive in measurement (they measure one activity at a time), are manageable in terms of their range, can yield high level data analysis, compatible with the OPS’ existing level of information technology and the service reality of police operations. The following indicators were finalized in consultation with the OHRC and the Research Team.
Police officers will record one of four “reasons” in making a decision to engage in a traffic-stop:
· Criminal Offences;
· Provincial Offences (provincial and municipal);
· Suspicious Activities; or
The “disposition” or “outcome” is the action or inaction imposed on the drivers carried out by police officers at the end of each incident of the traffic stops. For the purpose of this research, the options for “outcome” are:
· Final (no action taken)
· Warned (verbal and written warnings)
Quality Assurance Measures
Quality assurance is an integral part of this research project. The Research Team has recommended a two-pronged approach for twelve quality assurance measures:
Proactive Measures: Proactive measures depend largely on senior and middle level management. In addition to ongoing communications and standardized training requirements, regular monitoring of the data collection will focus on the volumes, patterns and trends of traffic stops (compared with those in past years), compliance rates of officers, data accuracy, and level of spoiled data.
Regular Measures: Regular measures utilize monitoring methods to safeguard data integrity. On the data entry and tabulation side, data verification and retrieval will be monitored regularly. Regular monitoring will be conducted and reported throughout the data collection period following the launch of data collection on June 27, 2013.
The project team will continue to work closely with the Research Team and provide briefings on the status and progress of data collection, entry, tabulation, reports, issues and concerns (police and community) related to both the process and outcomes of traffic stops data collection. The project team will also ensure community involvement in the quality assurance review processes.
Training and Officer Awareness Overview
In order to ensure officers understand the project a comprehensive training package has been developed to support quality assurance measures, ensure meaningful and measurable data collection, and officer compliance for the data collection process.
An interactive e-learning training program complete with video and scenarios will be delivered to officers via the Canadian Police Knowledge Network known as CPKN in time for June implementation. It will include information about the purpose of the project as well as the practical application of the data collection procedures and process.
In addition, supervisors will receive specific training and regular communications about the project to ensure monitoring, control and general project compliance throughout the two-year data collection period.
Process Testing Phase
All parties to the agreement and the Research Team agreed that a field test of the collection process was necessary. The process testing phase has been designed to test the training module and confirm the systems developed function properly. That testing period lasted three weeks and included forty officers from Patrol, District Traffic and Emergency Operations.
At the time of this writing the test is still underway but preliminary information indicates that the collection process is functioning as expected. A review will be conducted once the testing period is complete to determine if any refinements are required before the full launch. The data collected as part of the test will not be analyzed as part of the overall study.
Awareness Strategy – Project Launch
The OPS and the OHRC, in consultation with the Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario, are committed to ensuring there is knowledge of this project in the community. Project partners will continue to be kept informed with updates.
The OPS has also developed a communications strategy to support the launch of the Project. The communications for this project are scheduled to begin in the first week of June. A range of communications tools will be used including paid advertising, earned media, a community paper outreach plan, multilingual communications, social media, web-based information and more low-tech approaches, like handbills and posters, will be utilized throughout this period.
Members who are involved in vehicle stops will also be supported to ensure they are able to respond to inquiries from the public. In addition to the training package, they will be provided with resources including an information pamphlet that can be provided to drivers who have questions about the project.
The OPS will be working to evaluate these communications activities and make adjustments in the coming months to ensure community and internal awareness has been achieved.
Ongoing Community Engagement & Communications
One of the key outcomes from the consultation efforts is the importance of continuing engagement and dialogue about the project and the topic of racial profiling during the two-year data collection period. From the beginning of the project, the OPS committed to ongoing engagement with both police and community throughout the life of the project. Like the first phase of engagement and consultation for the project, the project team will ensure continued engagement activities with project partners, community and police members.
Led by the Community Development and Corporate Communications sections, an Engagement and Communications Plan for the next phase of the Project (two-year data collection period) is currently in development with project partners and includes continued engagement with both community and police members for the duration of the project and beyond:
• Project Web Page, Email Box & Phone Line;
• Project Updates;
• COMPAC Monthly Meetings;
• Community Police Advisory Committee Meetings;
• Presentations and Information Sessions;
• Community Ride Along with Officers;
• Questionnaires and Surveys;
• Public Dialogue Session;
• Quality Assurance Review Team;
• Feedback and Focus Group Sessions;
• OPA-OPS Session for Members; and
• Social Media Forums.
Ongoing engagement and dialogue is the foundation for this project. The project’s engagement plan will form part of the next project update to the board in November 2013.
Project costs will be allocated to corporate account: #TSRDCP 906213 for 2012 and 2013.
The OPS recognizes race-based data collection for police stops as one of the tools available to help police services address concerns of racial profiling. Police services can benefit by using this tool in order to address community concerns and questions. The OPS believes that this project will contribute to strengthening relationships with the community.
The OPS will continue to update the Board on project developments and will provide regular reports every six months.
(Original signed by)
Chief of Police
Responsible for the report: Inspector Pat Flanagan