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Carding 'a valuable tool' if done right, new chief says
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Thursday, May 21, 2015 3:36PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 21, 2015 5:15PM EDT
Carding should be used as a “valuable tool” to target street gangs, new chief Mark Saunders told CP24 Thursday.
Saunders said he wants to see police use the practice of carding as part of a “strong intelligence-led process” to catch gang members. It should not disturb innocent, randomly-selected people.
“I want our officers to know why they are in the neighbourhood, what the criminal element is, because within every community, there is a criminal element,” he said. “ It’s a small element-- it is not a large group of people. So I want my officers to be more focused and have better information on what the criminal element is within their community.”
The practice of carding grew out of a pocket-sized card developed by Toronto police in 1957 called a suspect card. It was used to keep information on "persons of interest," Toronto police Const. Caroline de Kloet wrote in an email.
After several name changes over the decades, the purpose of the cards was changed to mean "methods for gathering information in circumstances where members come into contact withany person or vehicle of interest during the course of their duties," in 2009.
In the past, Saunders said there were worries that some Toronto Police officers were carding people “for sheer numbers,” or to meet a volume-based quota and did so without much supervision or any rules about how info could be used, stored and shared.
“I’ve made it very clear that random is not to be utilized in our police way of delivering services,” Saunders said. “If I take random out of the equation then innocent people are not going to be stopped.”
But he repeated he does not support ending the practice of carding entirely.
“If we do it right, the negativity will be reduced.”
In his first live interview since officially becoming Toronto’s 20th police chief Wednesday, Saunders wouldn’t single out any of his predecessors for praise or criticism, but said he’s “lived life in this city with a different lens than most of the other chiefs.”
“Through my lived experience living as a black person in the city of Toronto, there are certain things I will have a different passion for because I have a stronger understanding, and a different level of sensitivity for.”
When asked about the Toronto Police Service’s greatest strength, Saunders said it is its approach to community relations. When asked about how the service could improve, Saunders said he tries to focus on the positive.
“I’ve never looked at worst, I’ve never looked at obstacles, I consider them opportunities,” Saunders said.
Extremely early in his tenure, Saunders said he’d entertain using more technology to assist police in traffic enforcementand wants to develop new methods and techniques to improve community safety throughout the city.
As far as working with other government officials, the chief said his priorities are in line with those of Mayor John Tory.
“We’re talking Batman and Robin here. Mayor Tory is a good mayor and I sang his praises yesterday. He’s a mayor that, like me, is very strong on inclusion,” Saunders said.