By Gerald V. Paul
Under the existing policy on community contacts police must advise you that any non-criminal interaction with them is voluntary and you have the right to leave.
In addition the police are to provide you with a receipt of the interaction indicating the officer’s name, badge number, location of the stop and details of what information was recorded.
Fast-forward to today (April 16). Those protections and other important provisions in the policy will be at risk of being lost. There is an amendment removing those protections that will be up for a vote.
Knia Singh of Osgoode Society Against Institutional Injustice (OSII) told The Camera after a meeting on Tuesday at the Sheraton Hotel that groups of concerned community members will consider legal action if changes to the carding policy are approved. “Let’s speak up against violations to our Charter of Rights,” Singh said.
According to Singh, “Over the past two weeks there has been an outpouring of opposition to the Toronto Police Service Board’s attempts to pass a “community engagement” policy which many decry as illegal and unconstitutional.
He said carding is destroying lives and creating an atmosphere of fear in Toronto Black communities.
In a Toronto Police release, the force said, “Until the policy has been finalized by the board, we will not respond to speculation on the part of some community members.”
Valarie Steele, director of the Black Action Defence Committee, added that “racial profiling / carding / community engagement is wrong in all of its formation. It is a racist way of policing and should not be allowed at all.”
The next scheduled police board meeting is today (Thursday) at 40 College St. The board will consider a report with respect to the details of data collection and a report on the criteria the board will apply to a future review of the Community Engagements Policy.