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RCMP to begin collecting analyzing race-based data in Fort McMurray, other locations

The RCMP says it will begin collecting race-based data in select locations this month to better understand interactions between police and people in various communities.

The pilot project follows two years of consultations across Canada.

The national police force said Tuesday the data about use of force, arrests and routine checks will provide evidence-based information to help improve how officers serve a diverse population.

The Mounties plan to collect, analyze and report the data to gain insight into the experiences of Indigenous Peoples, as well as Black and other racialized individuals, in dealing with officers.

The pilot project comes more than three years after Brenda Lucki, RCMP commissioner at the time, acknowledged that systemic racism exists in the police force.

The May 2020 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minnesota police fanned the flames of fury over racism in the United States and sparked anger and concern in Canada.

Growing outrage about police brutality and discrimination sparked rallies and calls for change.

The pilot project will help the RCMP better understand the nature, extent and effect of systemic racial disparities, the force said in a news release.

The project will enable data-driven decision-making and policy development, build trust with communities and ultimately improve safety, the force added.

“This initiative is an important milestone in becoming a more modern and inclusive policing organization,” said RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme.

“The initiative isn’t about singling out individuals. It’s about helping us identify and improve our policies, practices and training to better support our employees.”

The force said the collection, management and use of race-based data is consistent with its responsibilities under the Privacy Act and the RCMP Act.

Data will be collected for one year before it is analyzed and the findings are publicly reported, the RCMP added. When results are published, data will be presented in summary form in a way that individuals cannot be identified.

The pilot project will begin in Wood Buffalo/Fort McMurray, Alta., Thompson, Man., and Whitehorse, with two additional, unnamed pilot sites — one in British Columbia and another in Nova Scotia — to follow later this year.

The pilot is an opportunity for the RCMP to test processes and make improvements and adjustments before an anticipated future national rollout, the force said.

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