Calgary

Top cop says 'random' police checks not happening in Calgary, after accusations pile up elsewhere

Calgary’s top cop says "random" police checks are not happening in the city, after accusations of racial profiling hit other Alberta cities. However, terminology may be important as the chief committed to improving the practice of "carding" or "check-up slips" just last year.

Last year, Roger Chaffin said ‘carding,’ while not arbitrary, helps officers do their jobs

Calgary police say carding not happening in city

4 years ago
1:07
Chief focuses on word 'random' in controversial practice 1:07

Calgary's top cop says "random" police checks are not happening in the city, after accusations of racial profiling hit other Alberta cities. However, terminology may be important as the chief committed to improving the practice of "carding" or "check-up slips" just last year.

Lethbridge made headlines last week when data from a freedom of information request appeared to show black and Indigenous people are many times more likely to be stopped and asked by police for personal information.

Edmonton police are defending themselves against the same accusations of racial profiling after a CBC News investigation revealed street checks of non-white people were also many times higher.

The Calgary police chief, however, says this practice is not happening in his city, at least not in a random manner.

"We have no word like 'random' in our lexicon," Chief Roger Chaffin told CBC Calgary News at 6 on Thursday.

"The idea where we could stop and talk to people who are suspicious, and who are linked to some articulable reason to want to stop someone and collect some information form so we can use that later on for investigations or to solve crimes that may have occurred in the area, is important."

Chaffin has said carding is a valuable tool but it's not arbitrary.

"But the idea of being random is one of the key facets of that, the problem that's happening in Canada. Is it in fact justifiable? It is an articulable reason to stop them? What are you going to do with that data afterwards? All those sort of, the collection strategies, is it being supervisor-analyzed properly? All those things are what CPS is addressing right now."

He says indiscriminate carding is not happening in Calgary.

Chaffin, however, defended the practice of carding last year but noted Calgary Police Service practices were out of step with modern expectations around rights and privacy. He said by October that "carding" or "check-up slips" would be replaced by a more accountable system called "info posts."

Guidelines being developed

The Alberta Ministry of Justice is developing guidelines for street checks.

"All Albertans deserve to feel safe and respected in their communities," Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said last week in an emailed statement.

"Under Alberta's policing standards, police agencies are required to provide impartial policing without regard to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, belief or social standing."


With files from CBC Calgary News at 6

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