Edmonton police train in new street-check policy

Patrol officers are conducting street checks based on a new policy adopted by the Edmonton Police Service in August. Since then, recruits, supervisors and front line members have all undergone training on the new policy.

Street check policy adopted in August defines responsibilities of officers and rights of people stopped

Edmonton police have undergone training on a new street check policy introduced in August. (CBC)

Patrol officers are conducting street checks based on a new policy adopted in August, the Edmonton Police Service has confirmed.

Since then, recruits, supervisors and frontline members have all undergone training on the new policy, whose details were made public for the first time Thursday.

According to a written statement provided to CBC News by Staff Sgt. Warren Driechel of the intelligence branch, the policy lays out rules for officers carrying out a street check while clarifying the rights of individuals involved in one.

"It defined what a street check is, how it differs from detention and arrests, a member's responsibilities when conducting and reporting a street check," said Driechel.

EPS turned down CBC's request to see a copy of the policy. A spokesperson said an application would have to be made 

But Driechel said officers involved in the training review the purpose of a street check, with a focus on understanding bias, while clarifying rules around detention. It is hoped the training will "reinforce the need for proper articulation of why they are conducting" street checks, he added.

A street check is the practice of randomly stopping, questioning and documenting information from people. Critics say the stops can violate human rights and disproportionately target visible minorities.

Review identified need for policy

Last month CBC News learned the province had formed a working group to develop provincial guidelines for street checks, which many critics refer to as carding. The group will consult with community groups in the new year. It's a move Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht spoke out in favour of earlier this week.

Driechel said the new policy arose after police initiated a formal review of street checks  in October 2015. The review was not initiated due to a complaint, but rather "as a result of recognizing a need to examine our practices due to the discussion that was occurring within the community and at a national level," he said.

Driechel's statement said there were general street check policies and training in place previously. But the review "also recognized that although members were conducting themselves appropriately, Street Checks should be better defined with additional policy and training," he said.

Last October, police representatives said they had conducted a review of street checks but changes to policy were not necessary. The statement Thursday appears to contradict that position.

The policy was created with input from the various units within EPS, including patrol, human rights and the legal division. It reflected existing policies on fair and impartial policing, Driechel said. 

andrea.huncar@cbc.ca                @andreahuncar