Repeated street checks on people undercut Charter freedoms: activists
Chief: Multiple street checks may prove to be ‘entirely justifiable stops by our officers’
I don't know why someone would be stopped 14 times in a year.- Desmond Cole
The numbers showed that of 134 people who've been stopped three or more times in the same year in street checks, all but eight of them were visible minorities and aboriginal people.
The information was released to CBC Hamilton under a Freedom of Information request.
Coun. Terry Whitehead read a statistic from the article to the chief at the service's oversight board meeting on Thursday and said he wanted to give the chief an opportunity to respond:
"Of the 46 people stopped more than five times in one year in street checks, 44 of them were recorded in the police database as visible minorities, either black, aboriginal, "Mid East" or "S. Asian/E. Indian."
Chief: I haven't seen the data
De Caire said he hadn't seen the FOI request or the data that was released.
He reiterated the service's policies that officers do not stop people based on their race and said he will respond and comply with the public safety minister's draft regulations for the practice.
"I've seen the article, but I haven't seen the particulars," De Caire said.
"Going back, we may have the opportunity to look at every single one of those to find out they were entirely justifiable stops by our officers. I haven't seen that data."
"I don't know why someone would be stopped 14 times in a year," Cole said, referring to the Hamilton numbers. "And not just talk to them but document the situation. What do they want that information for?"
Whitehead said after the meeting that the revelations about the people stopped multiple times "isn't reflecting what we've been told" by police about the impacts of the Hamilton street check practice.
"That concerns me and I need more explanation on that," Whitehead said.
'You can't stop people based on the fact that you think they may be involved in a future offence'
"It's confusing," Cole said. "It can be very scary."
That intimidation could be what some of the individuals are feeling in Hamilton who've been street checked multiple times in one year, Cole said.
"This person wasn't necessarily breaking any law," Cole said. "But we know where they were, what they were wearing, we know who they are, who they were with."
Cole said that suggests the police would rather have a file on everyone's whereabouts.
"That would mean that we no longer live in a free society. And I would argue that we don't live in a free society anyway, based on the numbers."
Knia Singh, a law student who has filed a Charter challenge on the carding practice in Toronto, said police should stop people based on "reasonable suspicion," grounds that have been well-defined in case law.