Onus on police to justify street checks

Ottawa Sun Editorial

Have you ever told a police officer "I'm done with this conversation," and simply walked away?

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Can you imagine doing it?

Those defending the practice of police street checks or "carding" will, on occasion, point out that citizens have the right not to co-operate when stopped by police seeking their ID.

But let's be honest: Treating a conversation between a 19-year-old and an Ottawa police officer as a voluntary exchange in which either could equally walk away ignores a blatant power imbalance.

It's an inequality that underlies much of the debate around street checks, which have made headlines in Toronto but are also happening on the streets of Ottawa.

On Tuesday, Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi announced the Liberals will move to regulate street checks provincewide. It's likely a well-intentioned effort.

But perhaps it's time to go one step further and abandon the practice, period.

Read more at: http://www.ottawasun.com/2015/06/16/onus-on-police-to-justify-street-checks

Ottawa police taking heat over street checks

By Corey Larocque

Ottawa police are coming under fire for so-called "carding" practices even though a recently released report shows they made 4,405 street-checks in 2014, compared to 8,240 in 2010.

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While a critic says the controversial practice unfairly singles people out based on their race, Acting Insp. Mark Patterson says street checks are still a valuable crime-fighting tool.

"These street checks are an asset. It is a huge tool to us in terms of investigating and solving crimes," said Patterson, who wrote a report on how they've been used since 2010.

Also known as "carding," a street check is when police record information about people they meet on the street -- including their race -- and file it away, hoping it might be helpful in a future investigation.

But lawyer and civil liberties advocate Paul Champ said it's "shocking" how disproportionately blacks and Middle Eastern people are street-checked.

In Ottawa, blacks account for 5% of the population but made up 20% of the people street-checked over the past five years. Middle Eastern people make up 3% of the population, but accounted for 14% of street checks.

Read more at: http://m.ottawasun.com/2015/07/23/ottawa-police-taking-heat-over-street-checks

Black lives matter

Editorial, July 22, 2015

The shooting death of Andrew Loku, 45, at his place of residence by Toronto police on July 5 has become a call to action among groups that advocate for Toronto's Black community.

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It has become a matter of rote that police killings, ostensibly in the line of duty, are explained away after a process of investigation by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU). Regardless of stated efforts by the SIU to find the truth in these fatalities, the reports coming out of their investigations rubber stamp police accounts. The lack of cooperation by police involved in these encounters that lead to either death or injury of a civilian places the SIU at the same level as the current Toronto Police Service Board. The appearance is that whatever the police say goes. It is then left to aggrieved individuals to carry their case forward in the courts. For most people this is a daunting task.

We do not want to lose faith in the men and women who are tasked with maintaining law and order in this city. However, we are daily faced with the grim reality that regarding the Black community, individual freedom is not a given.

See more at: http://sharenews.com/black-lives-matter/