The RCMP is launching a pilot project to better track interactions between police and people of different ethnicities by collecting race-based data in select locations, according to a press release from the force. 

Following two years of consultation, the pilot project will begin collecting data this month on ethnicities when it comes to arrests, the use of force and routine checks. 

The RCMP says information is valuable to serve a diverse population and will offer ways to improve those interactions, in particular with Indigenous and black people.

The pilot project will begin in Wood Buffalo/Fort McMurray, Alta., Thompson, Man., and Whitehorse, Yukon. 

There are also two additional sites where the project will take place, however they remain unnamed. Two more are scheduled to begin in British Columbia and in Nova Scotia later this year. 

The pilot project is in response to comments made by former RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki that the police force suffered from systemic racism following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Floyd was a black man killed by a Minnesota police officer, sparking mass protests and riots across North America. 

“The collection of race-based data to understand police interactions (such as wellness checks, and arrests) and use of force will provide evidence-based information to help improve how the RCMP provides services to diverse communities,” said the RCMP. 

“Specifically, this will: Identify differences in policing outcomes for Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities; Better understand the nature, extent and impact of systemic racial disparities in community safety; Enable data-driven decision making and policy development; Build trust with communities; Improve community safety outcomes.”

The goal of the project is to build trust with communities and make informed policy developments based on the data. 

“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.”

All data collected and managed will adhere to the rules of the RCMP Act and the Privacy Act, according to the force. 

Data will be collected for one year before starting analysis, which will then be presented to the public, without any individuals being identified. If considered a success, the pilot project will be rolled out nationwide.