'My responsibility is community safety': Toronto's police chief on carding
Published Monday, June 8, 2015 7:49PM EDT
Toronto's top cop says he's reluctant to talk about carding policy changes until Mayor John Tory formally brings his proposal to a board meeting later this month.
Police Chief Mark Saunders made the comment one day after Tory vowed to "seek the permanent cancellation of carding once and for all."
Carding -- which refers to the police practice that allows officers to randomly stop citizens on the street and record their personal information -- has been a controversial issue in Toronto for years.
Critics claim the policy is racial profiling and should be abolished – an opinion that seems to be gaining traction.
Last week, a group of influential Toronto leaders, including former mayor Barbara Hall, jointly demanded an end to carding.
"We all know young black men, young brown men and women who have been going about a good, productive, healthy life … have all of a sudden been stopped and treated in a way that makes them feel devalued," Hall said last week.
But not everyone is on board with the suggestion.
Saunders, who is Toronto's first black chief of police, previously said he would not end carding.
"Abolishing it is not the way in which we are going to say, 'Everything is going to be better,'" he said in April, soon after his appointment.
When asked about Tory's recent comments on carding, Saunders said Monday he was "not surprised" but said his own position is based on the safety of Torontonians.
"My responsibility is community safety and I have made it very clear that’s my responsibility," Saunders said. "I'm always looking at what's the best opportunity we have to add value to community safety."
He said he continues to work with the Toronto Police Services Board to find the best solution that will keep the city's streets safe.
The next TPS board meeting is set to take place on June 18. The meeting will be attended by Tory, who said Sunday he intends to raise issue of carding with board members.
"This issue has been among the most personally agonizing for me during my short tenure as mayor," Tory said.
But even if carding is abolished, experts say there are other issues that also need to be addressed.
Former RCMP commissioner Norman Inkster says while the policy "needs to be replaced," police still need an effective way to gather intelligence and information.
"In the absence of (carding), crime solution is going to be extraordinary difficult," Inkster said. "Crime solution is only partly a science. It’s (also) people telling you what’s going on."
With a report from CTV Toronto's Austin Delaney