Londoners to get say on police carding

By Jennifer O'Brien, The London Free Press

Londoners will get to weigh in on the controversial police practice known as carding as Ontario moves to regulate how police forces in the province ­randomly stop people to gather information.

But one outspoken critic, who calls London's use of carding "on steroids" compared to other cities, says the answer isn't to regulate the so-called street checks by police, but to scrap them.

"To regulate carding is akin to putting lipstick on a pig," said Ajamu Nangwaya, an organizer with the Toronto-based Network for the Elimination of Police Violence.

"Carding is wrong. Carding must end. Period," he said.

"It's a fundamental right of citizens not to be unduly stopped by police. You are not a suspect in a crime, yet you are being stopped, questioned documented and your information stored."

Feeling the heat over a backlash to carding, especially in Toronto where racial minorities say they're disproportionately stopped by officers, Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has scheduled a five-city round of public hearings, including in London, to gauge public opinion before the province announces promised new regulations to control and standardize the practice.

Carding involves stopping and questioning people who aren't under arrest or facing charges nand taking down information to help build police databases.

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Toronto police carding vastly outpaced Ottawa

By Jacques Gallant, Toronto Star Staff Reporter

At the height of the controversial practice of carding in 2012 in Toronto, police were conducting street checks at a rate of about 20 times that of Ottawa, the province's second largest city.!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_620/ottawa-police-chief-charles-bordeleau.jpg

In 2012, out of population of close to 900,000, almost 7,000 contact cards were filled out in Ottawa, representing 1 for every 128 residents. In Toronto that year, just over 400,000 cards were filled out in a city of 2.7 million. In other words, 1 card for every 6.5 residents.

Non-residents are also carded. But in order to compare rates, the Star looked at contact cards per capita based on the populations of Ottawa and Toronto.

The stark differences speak to just how often Toronto police officers were stopping, questioning and documenting citizens in encounters that typically involve no arrests or charges.

Everything changed in 2013, when a new policy required officers to give a receipt to people who had been carded. The numbers began to drop significantly in Toronto. By 2014, the year before carding was suspended by former Chief Bill Blair, the degree of carding in Ottawa and Toronto had levelled out.

Toronto police filled out just over 11,000 contact cards in 2014, or 1 for every 232 residents, compared to 1 for every 221 in Ottawa.

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