British Columbia

Vancouver mayor calls for an end to police street checks

Data shows that between 2007 and 2018, Black and Indigenous people were significantly over-represented in the almost 100,000 street checks conducted by Vancouver police.

Kennedy Stewart's motion will ask city council to direct VPD to stop practice

Mayor Kennedy Stewart is calling for end to police street checks in Vancouver. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

The mayor of Vancouver is calling for an end to street checks by the city's police force.

Kennedy Stewart, who is also the chair of the Vancouver Police Board, will bring a motion in front of city council Tuesday morning asking council to direct the board to make the change a priority.

As chair, Stewart cannot vote on the motion himself.

Vancouver Police Department data shows that between 2007 and 2018, Black and Indigenous people were "significantly over-represented" in the almost 100,000 street checks conducted by the force, says Stewart.

"I think this is time for us to do policing in a different way. I think the VPD do an excellent job ... but personally I've seen enough to say this is what I think, and now I need to persuade others," he said, speaking on CBC's The Early Edition on Tuesday.

"None of us are deaf or blind to the protests that are being held around the world and right here in our city."

A street check is defined as "the practice of stopping a person outside of an investigation, often obtaining and recording their personal information." 

Many see the practice as a form of police harassment and racial profiling, as well as evidence of systematic racism within police forces.

Changes made to the provincial policing standards in January 2020 have already resulted in the number of street checks in Vancouver dropping by 89 per cent. 

"Now it's time to end it completely," said Stewart.

The VPD has argued that street checks are a "valuable proactive crime prevention tool."

According to the VPD, a street check happens "when a police officer encounters someone believed to be involved in criminal activity or a suspicious circumstance, and documents the interaction. They are not random or arbitrary checks."

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