News & Events

October 24, 2014

New study on the cultural competence of police and security officers in Canada

A new  research report has just been released focusing on the cultural competency of the country's police and security officers.

The country’s expanding ethnic diversity and growth in visible minorities makes it essential that those responsible for the country’s policing and security have the necessary training to appreciate the cultural background and practices in the communities they serve.

The project was a collaboration led by McGill University, and included the University of Quebec in Montreal, the University of Saskatchewan, Ryerson University, and the Environics Institute.

The study employed a mixed-methods research design, including qualitative and quantitative methodologies to collect data from police and security officers, as well as from the broader community. The Institute’s role was to conduct an opinion survey with individuals from selected visible minority communities in three Canadian cities.

Some highlights from the current study

  • There is a more pessimistic view amongst most cultural/religious groups in Montreal, as compared to the other 2 cities, concerning the importance of the role of local police, andconfidence in them, to help protect the country from extremist or terrorist activities, most notably among South Asians. This pessimistic view disappears when the same questions are posed concerning the RCMP;
  • Likelihood of contacting police in the eventuality of learning of possible extremist or terrorist activities in the neighbourhood is also lower in Montreal amongst most cultural or religious groups, most notably South Asians. Again, the same question asked about the RCMP does not show these unusual responses;
  • A relatively high percentage of respondents, most notably amongst Caucasians in all 3 cities, and more generally in Toronto, could not say whether or not the police was properly trained to understand people from different ethnic or religious backgrounds. The same phenomenon, i.e. a relatively high percentage of respondents answering "cannot say", is seen when they are asked whether the police use too much force to deal with issues in their community. This is most notable amongst Asians in Toronto.
  • Although most people believe the police keep watch on certain individuals in their community, they themselves do not believe they are subjected to surveillance;
  • Positive perception of police interaction seem to go in concert with a more positive view of police behaviours, except with Montreal South Asians, where this relationship is reversed. The reasons behind this unusual relationship is still under investigation.

This study represents part 1 of a study to examine the role of cultural competency as a response to radicalization leading to violence. Part 2 will examine how police and security officers view their training in terms of whether it provides them with what they need to be culturally competent and interact appropriately with Canadians.

For more information, contact Dr. Myrna Lashley at McGill University.

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