Edmonton police commission to review police practice of street checks

The Edmonton police commission is reviewing the practice of street checks, or carding, by city police.

'Everyone in our city deserves to feel safe and respected and police need clarity to be able to do their work'

Review of EPS street checks coming

5 years ago
Duration 0:56
The Edmonton police commission chair, Cathy Palmer, talks to media about Its third-party review of EPS street-check policy

The Edmonton police commission is reviewing the practice of street checks, or carding, by city police, saying it wants to determine if it is "respectful of all the people served by the EPS."
Chair Cathy Palmer announces the police commission will review the practice of street checks, or carding, that critics say is racially motivated. (CBC)

The review comes after a series of investigative stories by CBC News into the Edmonton Police Service practice. 

Data obtained through a freedom of information request showed that Aboriginal women, black, and Middle Eastern people were much more likely to be checked than white people.

The independent, third-party review will look at data gathered since the current street check procedure was implemented in August 2016, said commission chair Cathy Palmer at a news conference Wednesday.

This will help measure accuracy and determine if the current data collection is in line with the existing policy, she said.

Respect for rights and freedoms

"The commission is committed to the safety of all Edmontonians," she said. "We want Edmonton to the safest major city in Canada and all residents and guests to feel safe and welcomed.

"For this to happen, we must ensure our police service has the tools to do their job but are respectful of individual rights and freedoms at the same time."

The commission is looking outside the province for a consultant to do the review.

It will also put together an advisory committee of community representatives that will oversee the work of the consultant.

The commission is hoping to have the review in place by the end of August, with an optimistic deadline of Dec. 1, Palmer said. 

The report will be made public, she said.

Chief supports review

While both the Edmonton Police Association and Chief Rod Knecht have disputed that carding is based on race, Palmer said Knecht supports the review.

Bashir Mohamed with Black Lives Matter Edmonton said the commission's review will not change their calls for an outright ban on street checks.

"We don't see what else it will add," Mohamed said. "Our numbers don't lie. We have case studies in Ontario, Toronto."

Mayor Don Iveson said he supports the review.

"Everyone in our city deserves to feel safe and respected and police need clarity to be able to do their work," he said in a news release.

Alberta Justice is conducting its own review of street checks with the goal of developing guidelines for police across the province.