The Toronto Police Services Board has voted unanimously to approve a new carding policy that limits when officers can document people on the street.
Under the new rules, officers will need a reason relating to an actual occurrence or a series of occurrences before stopping someone on the street.
Police officers will have to provide a receipt for each interaction with their name and badge number, as well as the reason for contact.
"“The intent of the policy is provide a clear direction and a clear framework of what is the proper use of community contact; the purpose for which police will engage in community contact; and the criteria based on which information from those contacts will be kept or stored in a police data base," said Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee
"So it clarifies the field for officers. Its says to them we want you to engage with the community, respect peoples' rights, and don’t engage in recording and storage and information that has no bearing on public safety.”
The board was reviewing the issue over concerns of racial profiling related to the practice of street checks. It held a meeting in early April to hear community feedback on a draft policy developed by its counsel, Frank Addario.
One of the primary issues for critics of the policy was a clause that allowed officers to question members of the public "for no other reason than to collect intelligence," said Howard Morton, a criminal lawyer with the Law Union of Ontario who attended the vote.
"Now they have to be involved in a specific investigation and police simply can't go up to anybody and start peppering them with questions ... It’s a good policy. It needs to be researched, reviewed and tinkered with, but by-and-large it’s a very good policy."
Deputy Chief of Police Peter Sloly said that the new policy "matches up very closely" with 31 recommendations for improving community engagement included in an internal report commissioned by Chief Bill Blair in March 2012. Sloly says the TPS has successfully implemented 12 of those 31 recommendations to date.
Sloly said it's clear that there has been a steady "erosion of trust" between the public and the police force in the past decade.
"We are losing trust and we need to do everything we can to rebuild that trust, especially in the communities most at risk," Sloly said.
The Toronto Police Services Board is composed of seven civilian members. It oversees the Toronto Police Service.