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COSEP - Hands Up, Don't Shoot

Date & Time:
September 16, 2016 | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
SS 921
Dr. Scot WortleyCentre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies University of Toronto

This paper explores public perceptions of police use of force using data from a 2007 survey of Toronto residents. The majority of respondents believe that Black people are more likely to become the victim of illegitimate police use of force than civilians from other racial backgrounds. This view is particularly widespread within Toronto’s Black community. Interestingly, the majority of Chinese respondents believe that they are immune from biased use of force practices. Other factors that predict perceptions of biased police use of force include age, education, victimization, fear of crime, criminal history, direct and vicarious experiences with racial profiling, evaluations of police performance and beliefs about crime causation. Further analysis of official police shooting statistics – the first time such race-based data have been released in Canada – suggest that public beliefs about police use of force in Canada may hold some merit.  Both African and Aboriginal Canadians are grossly over-represented in police shooting cases while Asian Canadians are significantly under-represented. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.