By TOM GODFREY
Some 60 per cent of Toronto voters oppose Chief Mark Saunders and his use of a controversial carding policy against young Black males who have committed no crimes, according to a new Forum Research poll.
Only 29 per cent of residents polled by Forum during the first week of May supported Saunders and a police Community Engagements Policy that targets Black- and Brown-skinned males for investigation when they were not involved in criminal activity.
Pollsters found only three in 10 voters agree with Saunders’ view that ending carding will lead to an increase in crime.
A shocking 22 per cent of voters, or almost a quarter of Toronto residents, said they’ve been stopped by police and asked for personal information even though they did not commit a crime.
This is especially the case among the youngest and males, the poll revealed, adding that most of those stopped earned less than $40,000 annually and tended to live in Scarborough.
It showed those who favoured carding were between the ages of 45 and 54 and earned more than $100,000 annually.
Half of Toronto residents (52 per cent) say carding is ineffective at preventing crime and just one-quarter (27 per cent) think it effective for this purpose, the results showed. Those who think carding is effective tend to be the same group that favours the practice.
The poll found 41 per cent of voters agree that Black Torontonians are the focus of too much police enforcement, while 36 per cent disagree. About 25 per cent had no opinion.
Among Black voters, three quarters or 74 per cent agree (that Blacks are over-enforced by police), the results found.
The poll showed that 39 per cent of respondents agree that Blacks are disproportionately responsible for crime in Toronto, while 34 per cent disagree.
And more than 64 per cent agree there is a lack of trust between the Toronto police and the Black community, while just 14 per cent disagree.
Forum Research president, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff, said Torontonians do not like carding and many do not believe Chief Saunders on the issue.
“It’s clear Torontonians don’t like the idea of carding and they don’t think it works and they don’t believe their new police chief when he says it’s necessary,” said Dr. Bozinoff. “More serious though, is the overall lack of trust perceived between the Black community and the police force.”
Bozinoff was a bit surprised by the findings.
“When the entire population, not the aggrieved group only, sees sensitivity training and better communication as necessary to improve relations, you know there’s a problem,” he said.
Bozinoff said carding is not just a problem for the Black community “when we have nearly a quarter of Torontonians claiming to have experienced it”.
Black community leaders said they were not surprised by the results of the poll.
“This is nothing new,” said Kingsley Gilliam, of the Black Action Defense Committee. “We have been saying this for a long time.”
The BADC, Black Lives Matter and Jane Finch Action Against Poverty and others have been staging regular demonstrations outside police headquarters to protest the carding of young Black males.
Possible solutions to bridge the lack of trust between cops and the Black community ranged from 24 per cent who wanted better communications with the community; 22 per cent wanted more sensitivity training for officers; and 21 per cent who favoured more foot patrols in at-risk areas.
Some 11 per cent of voters wanted an end to carding; 8 per cent called for more Black cops and 4 per cent wanted cops to protect at-risk buildings.
The results of the Forum poll is based on a telephone survey of 822 randomly selected residents. The poll is considered accurate 19 times out of 20.