By Codi Wilson, CP24
Toronto police continue to face heavy criticism for 'carding' people on the street but it appears a similar practice is widely used by other police services in the GTA , though they are quick to distance themselves from the unpopular term.
Peel Regional Police, Durham Regional Police, York Regional Police and the Ontario Provincial Police all say they practice a form of "street checks." Toronto police too prefer to use the term "community engagement" in lieu of 'carding.'
In York region, authorities say they do have a policy on "police checks" but that the service "does not engage in the practice of carding."
Spokesperson Const. Andy Pattenden explained the difference by defining carding as "the systemic questioning or collecting of information from citizens in specific target areas."
"Our officers are expected to make use of a function in our records management system to gather information and intelligence by documenting interactions such as traffic stops where only warnings are issued, noise or youth complaints where no charge is laid or calls regarding suspicious people or vehicles," he told CP24.com in an emailed statement.
Pattenden said the service regularly analyzes the statistics they gather with regard to these police checks.
"These statistics show they mirror the demographic of the communities we police in terms of race and ethnic origin," he added.
Pattenden also said police work within the laws to collect this information.
"The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act permits the collection of personal information for law enforcement purposes, with or without the consent of knowledge of that person. However our officers are mindful of the fact they must not practice arbitrary detention or discriminate against a particular group and we have internal policies which address these areas."
The Durham Regional Police Service also said officers conduct street checks and fill out contact cards but officials did not provide CP24.com with the specifics of their policies.