Police union boss says carding is over 'period'
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Friday, November 18, 2016 1:19PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 18, 2016 5:03PM EST
The head of the Toronto Police Association says a new policy on carding will effectively end the controversial practice, despite the fact that it will still be allowed under limited circumstances.
On Thursday, the Toronto Police Services Board approved the new policy, which is designed to comply with new provincial regulations that go into effect on Jan. 1.
Under the new policy, police will only be allowed to stop and collect information from an individual if they “reasonably suspect” that identifying the individual could assist with a specific investigation or help with the “gathering of information for intelligence purposes.”
Officers will also have to inform individuals that they are attempting to collect information from that they are not under a legal obligation to comply.
“I can’t see our officers following this procedure in the sense of (still) doing street checks,” TPA President Mike McCormack told CP24 on Friday afternoon. “It is too cumbersome. It is going to put officers at risk and it is going to put the relationship with the community at risk so we are not going to do street checks period.”
McCormack said that the 10-page policy approved by the TPS board is too “ambiguous” and is ultimately a “flawed policy” that could put his members at risk if they choose to continue conducting street checks.
For that reason, McCormack said he will be advising members to stop conducting street checks entirely.
“What is reasonable suspicion? Who is going to be judging that?” he said. “Officers are going to go out there trying to interpret this and there will be third-parties reviewing what they do? It is not going to make getting the information easier and it is not going to make the relationships with the community better so why bother doing it?”
Though McCormack said that street checks, or carding, has historically served some investigative purpose he said that concerns raised about the negative impact the practice has had on police-community relations have effectively “trumped” whatever value it may have served.
“Let’s just get rid of it,” he said.
In addition to laying out specific circumstances in which carding would be allowed, the new policy also prohibits offices from collecting information from individuals because they are a member of a “particular racialized group” or because they happen to be in a high-crime area.
The policy also preserves historic carding data but restricts access to it.