By Hayley Mick
The Globe and Mail
TORONTO – Aboriginal leaders are calling for harsher penalties after five officers with Peel Regional Police were docked three days pay for circulating e-mails that mocked native Canadians as drunken criminals.
The reprimand includes sensitivity training for the officers, who forwarded e-mails that were “certainly inappropriate and could be viewed as offensive,” Constable Craig Platt, a spokesman for the police department in the region west of Toronto, said yesterday.
But Bob Goulais, a spokesman for the Union of Ontario Indians,said the disciplinary action, which follows a six-month investigation, is too light and will do little to deter racism. The incident occurred late last year.
More than one e-mail was circulated last year containing offensive material about natives. One included a song called the Native Rap, which describes aboriginals robbing liquor stores, punching old ladies, “curb-stomping Whities,” slapping women and shaking babies.
The audio file was obtained by CBC News, which tracked it to an officer in Brampton Police began an investigation in November, after a reporter told the department about the e-mail.
Constable Platt said the investigators traced the path of more than one offensive e-mail, which led to the disciplinary action against five officers.
The officers did not write the material, he said.
But Mr. Goulais’s organization, which represents 43 native bands, said the incident is “disturbing” and the officers should be dismissed.
“These are people in direct positions of authority,” he said. “There are implications with how they deal with first nations people when they actually meet them on the street.”
Constable Platt said the officers were not suspended after investigators weighed several factors, which included their previous conduct and the type of materials sent.
Their identities are being withheld because they were not charged under the Police Services Act.