MONTREAL -- An independent study commissioned by Montreal's police department reveals that its officers stop people from visible minorities far more frequently than they stop white people.

The study, which focused on a three-year period from 2014 to 2017, found that in Montreal an Indigenous person was 4.6 times more likely to be stopped for a "street check" than a white person, and that a black person was 4.2 times as likely to be stopped. Arab Montrealers were twice as likely to be stopped as white Montrealers. ("Street checks" are interactions with police that do not result in an arrest).

But while the study found what it called "systemic bias" by Montreal police, it stopped short of saying that officers were engaged in racial profiling.

The study - conducted by Universite de Montreal criminologist Massimiliano Mulone, Universite du Quebec a Montreal sociologist Victor Armory and Mariam Hassaoui, a sociologist from Universite TELUQ  - recommended, among other things, that police develop a formal policy regarding when, how and why it stops people, and that officers continue to inform themselves about racial profiling.

Montreal's police department says it is working on a formal policy, which should be in place by March 2020, and that it will set up a squad specializing in interventions with cultural communities and those with special needs.

The department also committed to issuing an annual report detailing its progress.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante called on the police force to follow the recommendations in the report. She called the findings shocking and unacceptable.

"I am therefore asking the SPVM to take immediate action without any delay," she said. 

Activists like Emilie Nicolas aren't surprised by the findings. 

"People have been saying this over and over and over again so in that way, there's not a lot of new information in the report, it's just information that sounds credible to the SPVM," she said. 

Last month, a Quebec Superior Court judge authorized a class-action lawsuit against the SPVM on behalf of non-white Montrealers who say they were unjustly stopped by Montreal police officers.

- With reporting from Emily Campbell of CTV News Montreal.