By TOM GODFREY
The controversial issue of carding that has angered the community for years is being addressed by the Toronto Police Services Board after much protest.
A long-awaited draft policy on carding was slated to be voted on by the Board today (April 10) after dozens of community members voiced their concerns during a public meeting at Police Headquarters on Tuesday. The vote will now be held on April 24.
Some members of the community have complained that the draft does not go far enough or address their concern of racial profiling.
The policy is expected to be approved by the Board, whose members have been under pressure from the community to end the racial profiling and carding of Blacks.
The guidelines will not hamper a $200 million class-action lawsuit that was filed against Chief Bill Blair and the Board, a meeting to update the community was told.
The “Street Checks and Community Contacts,” policy will be the first of its kind by Toronto police, whose officers will undergo training and be held more accountable in dealing with the public.
The draft, which was prepared by Toronto lawyer Frank Addario, said there has been a negative impact to police in their contacts with the community.
“The manner in which some contacts have been conducted and recorded has had a demonstrated negative impact on public trust,” it states. “Public trust in the police is essential to effective policing.”
However, it maintains that the “collection, retention, use and disclosure of information gathered for bona fide reasons can be a legitimate and effective policing tool”.
The policy will identify and facilitate the collection, retention and disclosure of information from police-civilian contacts in “non-detention and non-arrest contacts”.
Chief Blair will consult with the Board to “determine the type of data that will be collected for the purpose of review or evaluation and the duration of its retention,” the draft said.
The Chief will ensure information collected is non-identifiable, kept separately in a database for performance evaluation or risk management and not for use in investigations.
The policy will remind officers about the “importance of contacts with the community which are free of “improper profiling or bias”.
Officers will receive instructions about the “importance of telling an individual that they are free to leave if they are not detained or arrested”.
“Contacts are not pretexts to be entered into for the purpose of acquiring ‘reasonable grounds ‘ to justify investigative detention,” the document warns.
The Chief is to submit a report to the Board three times yearly with data and statistics related to contacts with the community.
Meanwhile, a teach-in to inform the community on the racial profiling lawsuit that is proceeding against Blair and the Board is slated for this Friday.
Lawyers from the community are to field questions and share information on the lawsuit at Oakham House, at Ryerson University. They include Ernest Guiste, Osborne Barnwell, Selwyn Pieters, Peter Rosenthal and Hamalengwa.
The event will be chaired by Arnold Minors, a former member of the Toronto Police Services Board and advocate for fair policing.
“This is part of community organizing on the class actions lawsuit,” said lead counsel Hamalengwa. “The meeting is part informational and part community mobilizational.”
He said lawyers are working to amend the claim as it goes through the process, which can take years.
The suit was filed by the Black Action Defense Committee, which also filed a $125 million class action lawsuit against Peel Regional Police for similar allegations of racial profiling and carding of Blacks.
Organizers claim children in the Malvern area as young as 12 years old have complained of being profiled by police.