CALEA Update Magazine | Issue 86
Criminal Profiling Versus Racial Profiling
When the Brantford Police Service in Ontario, Canada entered the accreditation process in 2000, there were a number of training issues that needed to be addressed. In particular was the training of personnel to meet the requirements of Standard 1.2.9 on bias based profiling. The training was designed and scheduled to take place over a five-week period, so that all members of the Police Service could attend the one-hour session. During the first week, a member of the Drug Unit attended and received training that included instruction on the difference between racial profiling and criminal profiling.Approximately one-year earlier, the Drug Unit discovered a large number of marijuana “grow houses” within the city of Brantford. All these “grow houses” had similar traits in common: theft of electricity, the discovery of thousands of dollars worth of illegal drugs, and the culprits were all of the same race.
Within one week of receiving his bias based profiling training, the drug officer testified in court against a person charged as a drug “grower.” The drug officer presented his evidence to the court, and was then cross-examined by the defence lawyer. The first question asked of the officer was “Did you pick this house to investigate because of the occupants’ race?” The officer denied the allegation and stated that he had investigated the residence due to his criminal profiling of the house; namely, high electricity consumption, large heat loss, appearance of being vacated, and the owners were of the same race as in similar, illegal “grow house” arrests. The lawyer continually asked him questions about being racially biased; and the officer continued to deny the charge and explained that he had criminally profiled the residence and suspects.
Finally, the Judge asked the officer to explain to the court the difference between racial profiling and criminal profiling. After giving the definition that had been provided during training, the Judge was satisfied the officer was acting in “good faith” and would not let the lawyer pursue his intended path of charging racial bias on the part of the police. The defence lawyer ended his questioning, and all those charged were found guilty and sentenced to jail.
CALEA standards provided the requirement for training personnel in regards to a very sensitive issue in today’s society, and the training produced a positive outcome. Prior to the police service being in the accreditation process, the defence in this case may very well have succeeded in presenting, falsely, that the officers acted on a racially motivated suspicion. This, no doubt, would have caused our police service to receive damaging media coverage, and may have easily resulted in a civil lawsuit, had the suspects not been found guilty.
The perception of the value of entering the accreditation program changed throughout the Brantford Police Service after this court case, when it was explained that, had we not been in the CALEA process, the officers would not have received bias based profile training. It is the Brantford Police Service’s opinion that CALEA Accreditation is providing the essential tools our officers need to be the best professionally, and in turn, to ensure that they provide the residents of Brantford with the best service possible.
Note: the Brantford Police Service received their initial Accreditation in March 2004 in Pasadena, California.