Hamilton’s police board asks for clarification on local on-the-street policing tactics

News Jun 26, 2015 by Laura Lennie Ancaster News

The Hamilton police services board is calling on Chief Glenn De Caire to better define the service’s on-the-street policing tactics in response to concerns raised over privacy and racial bias.

Members moved a motion at their June 25 meeting for De Caire to provide the information next month after hearing from a local activist who depicted a picture of “innocent and law-abiding people being stopped, questioned and asked for identification by officers outside of an investigation or an arrest.”

Black, Brown, Red Lives Matter chair Gary Fondevilla referred to that practice as “street checks.”

The practice is no different than controversial “carding” in Toronto that has been shown to disproportionately target homeless people, people of colour and the working class, he said.

“This practice is considered to be unconstitutional by many; it goes against our Charter rights, specifically the right to be free from arbitrary confession and the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure,” Fondevilla said. “Carding allows too much room for personal bias.”

De Caire said “interactions” with the public are critical to effective policing.

Officers need to talk to people in order to solve crimes, he said, citing, as an example, the broad daylight shooting that took place in May on Main Street East.

“The community wants us to solve these crimes,” De Caire said. “We cannot connect the dots of those investigations until we have the opportunity to speak to people and collect the evidence.”

De Caire acknowledged the existence of racial profiling in policing.

“I do want to be clear that we do not train our members to participate in the random, indiscriminate stopping of persons based on race or any other prohibited ground for the purpose of identifying individuals,” he said. “We are an organization that works off a basis of offences and we activate the authorities of a police officer as required.”

De Caire said when it comes to defining “street checks,” there are “multiple definitions depending on who’s doing the talking.”

The province plans to introduce standardized rules of the practice for police across the province.

Asked by reporters after the public meeting if “street checks” are the same as “carding,” De Caire said, “This is where there are definitions that will come forward for the board to entertain at the next meeting as we have committed to. And what we’re going to do is we’ll clarify at that point all of those issues for us.”

Hamilton police have used the term “street checks” in their statistics, citing they did between 3,500 and 5,500 of them between 2010 and 2013.

A 2012 Toronto report drew a direct link between “street check” practices in other Ontario police departments and “carding” in Toronto.

De Caire said usage of the term is dependent on the authority an officer is exercising.

An officer can be exercising an authority under the Highway Traffic Act or Liquor Licence Act; there are different reasons that people are also required to identify themselves, he said.

De Caire said, for example, an officer may ask for a citizen’s identity when issuing a provincial offence notice.

Failing to identify oneself to an officer can obstruct an investigation, he said.

“But once again, it is not appropriate to be randomly stopping people on the street based on race for the purpose of identifying them,” De Caire reiterated.

In addition to asking De Caire for a report on the service’s street stops, the board moved a motion for a “fulsome” race-based analysis on the issue.

Board member Terry Whitehead said he believed collecting that kind of data could help mend some of the “distrust” that he said can creep into the relationship between police and the community.

“If we’re trying to build trust in this community, a good start is to start collecting that kind of data,” Whitehead said.

De Caire said the service has not had direction of the board to do race-based analysis in the past, but will be prepared to report back on everything next month.

“We’ll bring forward statistics and we’ll bring forward, as directed by that motion, an analysis of this component in relation to race,” he said.

Board chair Lloyd Ferguson admitted after the meeting he doesn’t have a firm grasp on how local police “street checks” compare to other communities, but is looking forward to learning more about it.

Fondevilla’s message was received “loud and clear,” he said.

“I want to hear the other side of the story too,” Ferguson said. “You always want to have a balanced approach.”

Hamilton’s police board asks for clarification on local on-the-street policing tactics

Members seek report on ‘street checks’ practice after concerns raised about privacy and racial bias

News Jun 26, 2015 by Laura Lennie Ancaster News

The Hamilton police services board is calling on Chief Glenn De Caire to better define the service’s on-the-street policing tactics in response to concerns raised over privacy and racial bias.

Members moved a motion at their June 25 meeting for De Caire to provide the information next month after hearing from a local activist who depicted a picture of “innocent and law-abiding people being stopped, questioned and asked for identification by officers outside of an investigation or an arrest.”

Black, Brown, Red Lives Matter chair Gary Fondevilla referred to that practice as “street checks.”

The practice is no different than controversial “carding” in Toronto that has been shown to disproportionately target homeless people, people of colour and the working class, he said.

“This practice is considered to be unconstitutional by many; it goes against our Charter rights, specifically the right to be free from arbitrary confession and the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure,” Fondevilla said. “Carding allows too much room for personal bias.”

De Caire said “interactions” with the public are critical to effective policing.

Officers need to talk to people in order to solve crimes, he said, citing, as an example, the broad daylight shooting that took place in May on Main Street East.

“The community wants us to solve these crimes,” De Caire said. “We cannot connect the dots of those investigations until we have the opportunity to speak to people and collect the evidence.”

De Caire acknowledged the existence of racial profiling in policing.

“I do want to be clear that we do not train our members to participate in the random, indiscriminate stopping of persons based on race or any other prohibited ground for the purpose of identifying individuals,” he said. “We are an organization that works off a basis of offences and we activate the authorities of a police officer as required.”

De Caire said when it comes to defining “street checks,” there are “multiple definitions depending on who’s doing the talking.”

The province plans to introduce standardized rules of the practice for police across the province.

Asked by reporters after the public meeting if “street checks” are the same as “carding,” De Caire said, “This is where there are definitions that will come forward for the board to entertain at the next meeting as we have committed to. And what we’re going to do is we’ll clarify at that point all of those issues for us.”

Hamilton police have used the term “street checks” in their statistics, citing they did between 3,500 and 5,500 of them between 2010 and 2013.

A 2012 Toronto report drew a direct link between “street check” practices in other Ontario police departments and “carding” in Toronto.

De Caire said usage of the term is dependent on the authority an officer is exercising.

An officer can be exercising an authority under the Highway Traffic Act or Liquor Licence Act; there are different reasons that people are also required to identify themselves, he said.

De Caire said, for example, an officer may ask for a citizen’s identity when issuing a provincial offence notice.

Failing to identify oneself to an officer can obstruct an investigation, he said.

“But once again, it is not appropriate to be randomly stopping people on the street based on race for the purpose of identifying them,” De Caire reiterated.

In addition to asking De Caire for a report on the service’s street stops, the board moved a motion for a “fulsome” race-based analysis on the issue.

Board member Terry Whitehead said he believed collecting that kind of data could help mend some of the “distrust” that he said can creep into the relationship between police and the community.

“If we’re trying to build trust in this community, a good start is to start collecting that kind of data,” Whitehead said.

De Caire said the service has not had direction of the board to do race-based analysis in the past, but will be prepared to report back on everything next month.

“We’ll bring forward statistics and we’ll bring forward, as directed by that motion, an analysis of this component in relation to race,” he said.

Board chair Lloyd Ferguson admitted after the meeting he doesn’t have a firm grasp on how local police “street checks” compare to other communities, but is looking forward to learning more about it.

Fondevilla’s message was received “loud and clear,” he said.

“I want to hear the other side of the story too,” Ferguson said. “You always want to have a balanced approach.”

Hamilton’s police board asks for clarification on local on-the-street policing tactics

Members seek report on ‘street checks’ practice after concerns raised about privacy and racial bias

News Jun 26, 2015 by Laura Lennie Ancaster News

The Hamilton police services board is calling on Chief Glenn De Caire to better define the service’s on-the-street policing tactics in response to concerns raised over privacy and racial bias.

Members moved a motion at their June 25 meeting for De Caire to provide the information next month after hearing from a local activist who depicted a picture of “innocent and law-abiding people being stopped, questioned and asked for identification by officers outside of an investigation or an arrest.”

Black, Brown, Red Lives Matter chair Gary Fondevilla referred to that practice as “street checks.”

The practice is no different than controversial “carding” in Toronto that has been shown to disproportionately target homeless people, people of colour and the working class, he said.

“This practice is considered to be unconstitutional by many; it goes against our Charter rights, specifically the right to be free from arbitrary confession and the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure,” Fondevilla said. “Carding allows too much room for personal bias.”

De Caire said “interactions” with the public are critical to effective policing.

Officers need to talk to people in order to solve crimes, he said, citing, as an example, the broad daylight shooting that took place in May on Main Street East.

“The community wants us to solve these crimes,” De Caire said. “We cannot connect the dots of those investigations until we have the opportunity to speak to people and collect the evidence.”

De Caire acknowledged the existence of racial profiling in policing.

“I do want to be clear that we do not train our members to participate in the random, indiscriminate stopping of persons based on race or any other prohibited ground for the purpose of identifying individuals,” he said. “We are an organization that works off a basis of offences and we activate the authorities of a police officer as required.”

De Caire said when it comes to defining “street checks,” there are “multiple definitions depending on who’s doing the talking.”

The province plans to introduce standardized rules of the practice for police across the province.

Asked by reporters after the public meeting if “street checks” are the same as “carding,” De Caire said, “This is where there are definitions that will come forward for the board to entertain at the next meeting as we have committed to. And what we’re going to do is we’ll clarify at that point all of those issues for us.”

Hamilton police have used the term “street checks” in their statistics, citing they did between 3,500 and 5,500 of them between 2010 and 2013.

A 2012 Toronto report drew a direct link between “street check” practices in other Ontario police departments and “carding” in Toronto.

De Caire said usage of the term is dependent on the authority an officer is exercising.

An officer can be exercising an authority under the Highway Traffic Act or Liquor Licence Act; there are different reasons that people are also required to identify themselves, he said.

De Caire said, for example, an officer may ask for a citizen’s identity when issuing a provincial offence notice.

Failing to identify oneself to an officer can obstruct an investigation, he said.

“But once again, it is not appropriate to be randomly stopping people on the street based on race for the purpose of identifying them,” De Caire reiterated.

In addition to asking De Caire for a report on the service’s street stops, the board moved a motion for a “fulsome” race-based analysis on the issue.

Board member Terry Whitehead said he believed collecting that kind of data could help mend some of the “distrust” that he said can creep into the relationship between police and the community.

“If we’re trying to build trust in this community, a good start is to start collecting that kind of data,” Whitehead said.

De Caire said the service has not had direction of the board to do race-based analysis in the past, but will be prepared to report back on everything next month.

“We’ll bring forward statistics and we’ll bring forward, as directed by that motion, an analysis of this component in relation to race,” he said.

Board chair Lloyd Ferguson admitted after the meeting he doesn’t have a firm grasp on how local police “street checks” compare to other communities, but is looking forward to learning more about it.

Fondevilla’s message was received “loud and clear,” he said.

“I want to hear the other side of the story too,” Ferguson said. “You always want to have a balanced approach.”