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No quotas for carding in Hamilton, but cops had to show they were busy: police

There were no performance standards, says a top Hamilton inspector. Just basic reporting.

There were no performance standards, says a Hamilton inspector. Just basic reporting

Hamilton Police officers are still waiting to hear exactly how new street check legislation will impact them. (Benjamin Dyment/CBC)

Hamilton police officers have never had a quota for the number of street checks — or carding — they had to do in a shift, says a Hamilton Police inspector.

But they have "historically" included the numbers in reports to show they were busy during working hours.

If you're a production worker, you have to produce.- Inspector Mike Worster

Insp. Mike Worster, who heads the division that includes the ACTION team, says officers have included the numbers to show what they did while on duty.

"If you're a production worker, you have to produce," he said. "If you're a police officer, you have to produce.

"You can't expect to go out there and walk around and not come back with any statistics at the end of the day. So you have to account for your time."

But Worster said there have never been any quotas, nor have officers been measured on how many street checks they do.

"We're not using them as a performance measurement."

Whether officers are expected to do street checks has been a burning question when it comes to carding, which has been high profile in the province this year.

The term "carding" refers to when front-line officers stop to check people's IDs and keep their information on file – in the case of Hamilton, indefinitely.

Proponents say the practice helps solve cases and deter crime. Opponents say carding is invasive and unfairly targets minorities.

Police chiefs and boards must acknowledge that there is racism in policing.- Marla Brown, Hamilton Community Legal Clinic

In Hamilton, carding data from 2012 shows that one Aboriginal man was stopped 14 times. In 2013, a black man was carded 13 times. 

And last month, Hamilton's first black city councillor, Matthew Green, filed a complaint to police saying he was unfairly stopped and questioned.

"He repeatedly questioned my credibility, acting in an intimidating manner and continued to harass me even though it was clear I was not a suspect in any crime or involved in any criminal activity," Green wrote in his complaint.

Worster's presentation showed street check numbers dwindling in the last two years.

The numbers are as follows:

  • 2015: 43 street checks.
  • 2014: 192.
  • 2013: 3,684.
  • 2012: 4,803.
  • 2011: 5,423.
  • 2010: 4,241.

The province is creating new rules around street checks. The Hamilton police board has until July 1 to develop new policies to match. The legislation takes effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

The wording in Thursday's report made it sound dubious whether Hamilton had ever used street checks to measure the performance of its officers.

"As of July 1, 2016, the number of times that an officer collects identifying information will no longer be used as a performance measure in compliance with Ontario Regulation 58/16," it reads.

Worster says police are still waiting to hear how the legislation will impact their training, but that it won't significantly impact the role of the ACTION team.

​Marla Brown, a lawyer with the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, urged the board to act faster than the legislation. Even the legislation, she said, leaves too much ambiguity. 

She called street checks "apartheid-esque." And they are "the tip of the iceberg," she said.

"Police chiefs and boards must acknowledge that there is racism in policing."

samantha.craggs@cbc.ca | @SamCraggsCBC

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