‘The is­sue is not card­ing, the is­sue is racial bias in polic­ing’

Toronto ad­vo­cate re­sponds af­ter in­de­pen­dent re­view con­cludes street checks should be banned

StarMetro Toronto - - FRONT PAGE - May War­ren STAFF RE­PORTER Alyshah Hasham COURTS RE­PORTER

Full story at thes­tar.com

Kofi Hope was sit­ting in a car out­side a Mississauga night­club with a few friends try­ing to de­cide if they should brave the cold and get in line, when he says sev­eral cops sud­denly sur­rounded them with flash­lights, de­mand­ing they get out of the ve­hi­cle.

“They kept say­ing to us, ‘We know one of you has the record. Who has the record? Who has the record?’” Hope, now 35, says of the in­ci­dent about 15 years ago.

No one did. Af­ter look­ing at all of their IDS, search­ing them and the car, he says po­lice let the young men go. Hope is not sure what the of­fi­cers did with his in­for­ma­tion from that night. But he says he does know he’s been stopped mul­ti­ple times and he’s not the only one.

“I think most young peo­ple of colour in the GTA have had those ex­pe­ri­ences,” says Hope, a se­nior pol­icy ad­viser at non-profit think tank the Welles­ley In­sti­tute and a Rhodes Scholar.

“It’s dis­em­pow­er­ing, it’s in­sult­ing, you feel un­safe.”

A 300-plus page in­de­pen­dent re­view of street checks known as “card­ing” that dropped on New Year’s Eve has ad­vo­cates call­ing for ur­gent changes, say­ing ar­bi­trary and dis­crim­i­na­tory street checks like what Hope de­scribes can­not be stopped without mea­sures to ad­dress racial bias in polic­ing.

The re­port from Court of Ap­peal Jus­tice Michael Tul­loch in­cludes a re­view of the province’s 2017 reg­u­la­tion on card­ing and con­cluded that ran­dom street checks should be banned as they have lit­tle im­pact on re­duc­ing crime and have caused sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to racial­ized com­mu­ni­ties, es­pe­cially among youth.

It in­cludes rec­om­men­da­tions to clar­ify when po­lice can stop to col­lect iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion out­side of an ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion — in­clud­ing that there should be some sus­pi­cion based on ob­jec­tive and cred­i­ble grounds jus­ti­fy­ing an in­quiry.

“It’s not news to any­one who’s been do­ing this work, or ad­vo­cat­ing around card­ing,” Hope says of the re­port’s con­clu­sions.

“The is­sue is not about card­ing, the is­sue is about racial bias in polic­ing ” he adds. “Card­ing is just one man­i­fes­ta­tion.”

There has to be bet­ter train­ing, over­sight and ac­count­abil­ity, Hope says, be­cause “the con­se­quence of hav­ing even a few of­fi­cers with those views is hugely detri­men­tal.”

Staff Sgt. Valerie Gra­ham of the Peel Re­gional Po­lice told the Star in an email she’s un­able to

“JUST BE­CAUSE A BIAS OR A PREJUDICE IS THERE CUR­RENTLY DOESN’T MEAN THAT IT’S GO­ING TO SUS­TAIN IT­SELF IF WE WORK INTENSELY AGAINST IT.”

Asante Haughton, 33, peer sup­port leader, carded mul­ti­ple times

com­ment specif­i­cally on Hope’s en­counter. She said the ser­vice fol­lows the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion on street checks.

“Peel Re­gional Po­lice has never sup­ported ran­dom ar­bi­trary race-based stops of any kind, and if an of­fi­cer was found to par­tic­i­pate in such a stop, they would be dis­ci­plined,” she added.

Toronto po­lice Const. Rob Reid told the Star on Mon­day he and his col­leagues take the re­port “very se­ri­ously.”

In the re­port, Tul­loch rec­om­mended fur­ther train­ing for both front-line and su­per­vis­ing po­lice of­fi­cers on why the card­ing reg­u­la­tion was in­sti­tuted, how it ap­plies and what the le­gal ba­sis for po­lice stops are. The train­ing should also in­clude bias aware­ness, he wrote.

Asante Haughton, a 33-year- old peer sup­port leader who says he’s been stopped by po­lice so many times he’s lost count, agrees train­ing is key.

“Just be­cause a bias or a prejudice is there cur­rently doesn’t mean that it’s go­ing to sus­tain it­self if we work intensely against it,” he said, adding card­ing breeds dis­trust, which can get in the way of solv­ing ac­tual crimes.

Dur­ing his teen years liv­ing near Re­gent Park, he says he was stopped go­ing to school, com­ing home from school, even in front of his own door. He says he’s been stopped at least 25 times, even though he’s never been ar­rested or in­volved with gangs.

More rec­om­men­da­tions and re­ac­tions at thes­tar.com/gta

RICK MADONIK/TORONTO STAR

Kofi Hope, seen in his mid­town of­fice, has had per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence with card­ing and is an ad­vo­cate to stop the prac­tice.

TORONTO STAR

A new re­port from Court of Ap­peal Jus­tice Michael Tul­loch says street checks should be banned en­tirely since they have “lit­tle to no ver­i­fi­able ben­e­fits re­lat­ing to the level of crime or even ar­rests.”

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