New carding policy expected to be step toward 'bias-free' policing, mayor says
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Friday, March 27, 2015 12:47PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 27, 2015 4:00PM EDT
Mayor John Tory says a new policy that addresses the controversial practice of ‘carding’ is an “important landmark in advancing bias-free policing.”
Details of the new Toronto Police Services Board’s community engagement policy were unveiled at a press conference on Friday morning at Toronto police headquarters.
The issue of ‘carding,’ a term for when police stop and in some cases collect information from people who are not under arrest, has come under fire from critics who claim the practice promotes racial profiling.
One notable directive in the new policy released Friday says officers “will not consider race, place of origin, age, colour, ethnic origin, gender identity or gender expression” when deciding whether to engage a member of the public “unless one or more of these factors form part of a suspect, victim or witness description.”
“We know that we cannot live in a city where young, black men, for example, feel devalued or disrespected. We cannot have people of colour seen as objects of fear. At the same time, we cannot and should not have groups in our city with a pre-determined hostility to the police,” Tory said at the news conference Friday.
“I believe today represents a very positive step forward. If we are all determined and sincere, as I know we will be, in the implementation of the policy… we will begin the process of re-establishing and strengthening that vital trust.”
In January, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair suspended the practice of carding until it had been studied further by a consultant. Officers were directed not to stop individuals or prolong interactions without a valid public safety reason.
“I want to assure the people of Toronto and in particular all of the people of diversity, the people of colour in our community, that their police service is absolutely committed to ensuring that we treat every person in this city with respect,” Blair said Friday morning.
“It is only by being worthy of their trust and attaining their trust and maintaining their trust that we will be successful in keeping all of our communities safe.”
Blair says that some changes will have to be made to officer training to reflect the new policy.
When asked about how the document will translate to real changes in the community, Blair said the document serves as a direct order from him personally.
"When I write a procedure, these are actual orders from the chief," he said.
"It is also a declaration made to the public. This is what we stand for and you can hold us to this declaration of principles."