Street checks not the same as carding: Regina police chief

Regina police chief Evan Bray sat down with CBC News to discuss what he considers the distinction between street checks and carding.

Evan Bray '100 % against carding' but calls street checks 'community interaction'

Regina's chief of police says there is a distinction between carding and street checks. (CBC Saskatchewan)

Regina's newly minted police chief says he is 100 per cent against carding.

Evan Bray called what Regina police do 'street checks,' which he said is about officers keeping contact with the public.

We won't do it outside of the law. We won't be breaching peoples' human rights.- Evan Bray, Regina Police Service chief

"We don't even address any specific issue. We don't take out our notebook and write anything down. To me, that's community interaction," he said.

Carding is the act of police stopping people on the street and obtaining information from them randomly. It has been a divisive topic in Saskatoon, where it is viewed as something practical and useful by police, but racist, discriminatory and a form of profiling by others.

People do not have to answer any questions or provide information to police, unless they are being detained. 

Bray is adamant there is a distinct difference between carding someone and conducting a street check.

"Carding is our [police] service going into the community and putting together a Rolodex of everybody so we've got everything on file," Bray said.

But RPS does perform street checks.

Bray gave the example of a rash of vehicle break-ins in a specific area of the city. He said police would patrol those areas during certain times and interact with the people they encounter.

"It's not even about stopping and talking to them and talking as if they're a suspect," he said. "It's just stopping and saying, 'Hey, how's it going tonight?' or 'What are you up to?'"

Bray described those types of police-civilian interactions as "very positive."

"We won't do it outside of the law. We won't be breaching peoples' human rights," Bray said. "But we will continue to talk to the community so they understand we're out there making sure areas are safe and people are safe."

Guns and drugs

The major concerns when it comes to crime in Regina are methamphetamine and guns, Bray said.

Bray said police will be aggressive when it comes to addressing the issue but will take a different route than usual. He said catching bad guys and locking them up for a few years doesn't address the root cause of why someone might be using.

"If it's an addiction problem, let's try and help the person with the addiction," he said. "If you're not addicted to drugs, then you're not committing crimes to get the drugs." 

Bray hopes there can eventually be collaboration between social services, health services and other human services programs in the city to address drugs.

"We all work together to try and help people to become healthy, and that improves the health and safety of our community if we can provide a holistic, social justice."

With files from Jill Morgan