Police carding a useful tool for Calgary police, says chief

The Calgary Police Chief addressed community concerns about carding and racial profiling at an event hosted by the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association.

"There has to be a legitimate reason for that stop," says Roger Chaffin about controversial policy

Calgary Police Service Chief Roger Chaffin speaks with CBC Calgary News at 6 anchor Rob Brown about crime and policing in the city in 2015, as part of a year-end interview. (CBC)

Police carding, while controversial, is an important practice that helps the Calgary Police Service do its job, chief Roger Chaffin told a crowd at a public talk on Monday night.

"It is never random. It is never arbitrary. There has to be a legitimate reason for that stop, that check."

Carding, referred to as "police check-up slips" by Calgary police, is when officers stop people in public places to ask for identification and what they're doing.

The Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association says not only are these checks unconstitutional, they are also more likely to happen in Calgary neighbourhoods with greater racial diversity. They question the utility of the practice in Calgary.

While talking to the crowd Chaffin conceded the system isn't perfect.

"There's just no way that you can have as large a city with as many people, as many diverse issues, that there wouldn't be a mistake."

CPS Chief Roger Chaffin addresses the crowd at an event on police carding hosted by the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association on June 27, 2016 (Natasha Frakes)

Chaffin says he is looking at the policies, regulations, rules, and the province's laws to make sure the police service has the right model going forward for making checks.

He says he wants address any problems so they don't become a pattern in the service.

Abena Boadi came to hear Chaffin speak. She grew up in Calgary, and says she understands the rationale, but she will never fully support the practice.

"Either way, I'm not going to like it. I'm not going to be happy with it. I don't think it's something that anybody's ever going to be comfortable with. But I can see both sides."