NEWS

Black officers' group questions Don Jail response

03/09/2012 07:22 EST | Updated 05/09/2012 05:12 EDT

The Association of Black Law Enforcers says they are concerned about reports of racist hate mail directed at black guards who work at Toronto’s Don Jail.

As CBC first reported earlier this week, guard Leroy Cox has filed a complaint with Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal, alleging he and other guards have endured years of racist hate mail in the workplace. Cox’s complaint suggests the racism originates with other staff at the jail.

The anonymous letters use racial slurs. One letter Cox received in April 2010, reads: "Some of these a--hole n---a's will be killed...Cox...Segregation today segregation tomorrow Segregation forever."

In December 2010, a grievance settlement board that deals with public employees ordered the ministry to compensate Cox and other guards after considering 39 racist letters sent to the jail between 2005 and 2009.

Insp. Keith Merith, president of the Association of Black Law Enforcers, said the case shows what some black law enforcement officers have to face in the workplace.

"Just imagine the conditions that you have to work under when you receive that kind of hate mail in your workplace," he told CBC News.

The association is a non-profit organization formed in 1992 to address the needs and concerns of black officers and other racial minorities in law enforcement.

Conditions have generally improved

Merith said Cox should not have had to endure seven years of racial slurs. Merith is also concerned that, although the alleged racism stretches back to 2004, no one has ever been charged for sending the letters.

Cox had just returned to work in January 2011 after being on extended leave because of the harassment. In July 2011, he went on leave again after jail supervisors revealed more hate mail targeting him.

Despite the details of the Cox case, Merith said things are a lot better than when he started as a police officer in the Greater Toronto Area 26 years ago.

But his group still gets a number of calls from black officers who feel they are facing discrimination at work.

“We have had a number of complaints and it is concerning,” he said. “We are in 2012. We need to address the situation. We need to confront it and we need to correct it.”

Merith said his association will help any law enforcement officer who feels they are the target of racial discrimination.

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