Regina police developing new street-check policy

Regina police are developing a new policy on street checks, according to police chief Evan Bray.

Police Chief Evan Bray says checks need to be conducted respectfully, without bias

When street checks are conducted, civilians are not legally required to provide information to police unless they are being detained. (Dan Zakreski)

Regina police are developing a new policy on street checks, according to police Chief Evan Bray.

Street checks — which are also sometimes referred to as carding, but which Bray insists are different — are conducted daily, the Regina police chief said.

When civilians are approached by police, there is no legal obligation to provide information unless they are being detained. 

Concerns were raised Wednesday about street checks disproportionately targeting the Indigenous population in the city. 

"We need to make sure that we're not acting in a way that is showing a particular bias," Bray said, noting that applies to age, religion or race.

Bray mentioned a hypothetical situation involving a missing child in Regina's North Central neighbourhood and how street checks would factor in.

"We're going to be talking to people in North Central. It doesn't matter what age, race, religion they are," Bray said.

Bray said street checks are part of daily operations for police in the city. (Micki Cowan/CBC)

"If they're walking down the street and we're looking for a missing 10-year-old boy ... I'm going to speak to groups of people, or individual people and ask them, have they seen this person?"

Checks occur everywhere in the city and are not centralized in any specific area, he said.

"It's not based on anything other than they just happen to be in that area at that time."

Bray said the Saskatchewan Police Commission is coming out with some upcoming direction on street checks.

The framework laid out by the commission will be referred to for Regina's policy, and could provide guidance on issues such as whether data should be collected during street checks, or if the checks should be conducted at all. 

Bray emphasized the checks are done for the sake of safety, and Charter rights are kept in mind when they are conducted.

The checks are conducted for multiple reasons, such as gathering information about investigations, crimes — but sometimes simply to talk with people, he said.

With files from CBC's Micki Cowan