Mark Saunders, Toronto police chief, stands by controversial carding practice

Toronto police chief Mark Saunders is standing by the practice of carding, saying police rely on it to keep issues like gang violence in check in the city.

City's first black police chief also reflects on upbringing in interview with CBC's Dwight Drummond

Toronto police chief says force relies on intelligence gleaned from carding to keep lid on gang violence 2:12

Toronto police chief Mark Saunders is standing by the practice of carding, saying police rely on it to keep issues like gang violence in check in the city.

Carding allows police officers to stop and question people to gather information — intelligence that is then stored indefinitely in a secret database. Critics have blasted the police technique, calling it unfair and discriminatory. One MPP is even calling for a provincial strategy against it.

"It is legal. And it does enhance community safety," Saunders said in a sit-down interview with the CBC's Dwight Drummond.

Saunders said the intelligence helps police "see the bigger picture" when it comes to what's going on with the some 2,000 gang members in the city. But, he said, it doesn't give police officers a "green light" to treat people badly.

"This is a tool that is utilized for gaining better intelligence. But it has to be used properly," Saunders said.

"Our conduct has to be at a higher level than any member of the public. That's what we owe the community."

Mark Saunders, Toronto's first black chief of police, reflects on his upbringing and what it's like being seen as a role model now. 1:26
Saunders said police will no longer make random stops and said officers will be given more information and training surrounding carding. 

Drummond also asked Saunders in another portion of the interview about the importance of being Toronto's first black police chief — something that drew a smile from Saunders. "Well I made history in Milton in Grade 5 because I was mayor for a day and I was still black then," he said with a laugh.

You can watch the full interview with Saunders here

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