Saskatoon police carding practice evolves in face of criticism

Saskatoon's police chief says officers are changing how they do street checks to accommodate critics' concerns.

Police will continue with modified street checks in 2017

The Saskatchewan Police Commission is developing a draft policy on carding. (Dan Zakreski/cbc)

Saskatoon's police chief says officers are changing the way they approach street checks.

The police practice of stopping and quizzing individuals at random emerged as a hot button issue this year. Critics characterized it as thinly-veiled racism.

Police ​chief Clive Weighill said he appreciates the concerns of people who feel racially targeted. To that end, police now explain to a person why they are being stopped.

"I think the good compromise is, and we've already told our officers to do this, if you do stop somebody the very first thing out of your mouth should be the reason why you're stopping that person," he said in a recent interview.

But Weighill said it's counterproductive for officers to begin an exchange explaining that a person does not need to answer any questions.

Draft policy in progress

He called street checks a practical policing tool.

"I don't think you can say 'no' street checks, or, 'who cares what you say we're going to do street checks,'" he said.

"There's got to be some compromise in the middle where people can feel their rights are being adhered [to] and yet the police can still do their job."

The Saskatchewan Police Commission is developing a draft policy on carding for municipal police forces. Weighill said this policy should constitute the minimum standard.

He plans to take the draft and meet with critics of carding to develop a workable policy acceptable to all.