Submissions to Toronto Police Service Board: “Carding, Street Checks, Non Arrest Contacts: The Addario Report and Opinion”
Entitled “Carding, Street Checks, Non Arrest Contacts: The Addario Report and Opinion,” the LUO’s Stop Racial Profiling Subcommittee made the following written submissions to the Toronto Police Service Board at the Board’s special meeting on April 8, 2014.
Carding, Street Checks, Non Arrest Contacts: The Addario Report and Opinion
1. Executive Summary
“Carding” or “street checks” are part of a police intelligence-gathering scheme in which the constitutional and privacy rights of members of the public (disproportionately racialized youth) are systematically violated for the purpose of amassing their personal information in a police database. It has been suggested by the police service that this scheme is intended to preserve public safety and prevent crime. However, the practice is divisive and it is antithetical to building public trust and confidence in the police because it is unlawful and unethical. This undermines the objective of preserving public safety.
The Law Union hereby submits that the Board should exercise its responsibility to protect the public and:
(a) direct that the practice of stopping and questioning law-abiding persons for general intelligence-gathering purposes cease immediately; and
(b) direct that all of the data that has been collected under this program for general investigation purposes be immediately purged.
Mr. Addario’s opinion and draft policy makes it implicitly clear that he views carding as presently practised to be a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Human Rights Code, as well as s.1(2) of the Police Services Act. Thus, as an interim measure (if the Board will not immediately take the actions described above on a permanent basis) the Law Union of Ontario respectfully asks the Board to direct Chief Blair to immediately suspend the practise of carding or street checks while it deliberates Mr. Addario’s proposal or prepares and implements a new policy. Otherwise, the Board would be condoning the continuation of practices that it knows to be unlawful.
The Law Union of Ontario maintains that the practise of stopping and questioning law abiding individuals for general intelligence-gathering purposes violates the right to life, liberty and security of the person; the right to be free from arbitrary detention; the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure; and the right to equality before and under the law and the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination guaranteed by the Charter. The practice also violates the prohibition of discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code (“Code”), Canada’s commitments under the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (“ICERD”) and its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (“CRC”).
The practice of carding and street checks disproportionately singles out Black and Brown children and youth. This is a form of racial profiling that violates the Code’s prohibition of discrimination in the delivery of a service, and it violates a child’s right not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy under the CRC. Racial discrimination by law enforcement officers causes significant individual and societal damage. It disproportionately criminalizes certain demographic groups, engenders public mistrust of societal institutions, and generates feelings of humiliation, vulnerability, and loss of dignity, confidence, and self-esteem.
“Community policing” has as its philosophy and rationale the embodiment of police building ties with communities and working closely and in a shared endeavour with members of the communities that they have sworn to serve and protect. Racial profiling, monitoring, over-scrutinizing, and arbitrarily stopping and questioning people and treating them like potential criminals because of the way they look – no matter how politely it is done – not only harms community members but serves to strain community/police relations.
Although Mr. Addario’s opinion makes it implicitly clear that he views carding as presently practised to be a violation of the Charter and the Code, the Law Union respectfully submits that the draft new Community Contact Policy fails to fully satisfy the Toronto Police Service’s obligations flowing from the operation of the Charter and the Code.