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Vancouver police asking for formal policies on street checks

Last Updated Mar 27, 2019 at 10:23 am PDT

Vancouver Police Headquarters on West Fifth Avenue (Courtesy Google Maps)
Summary

Indigenous peoples made up 16 per cent of street checks in 2017, while only making 2 per cent of Vancouver

Police data from 2017 showed "a strong suggestion that street checks are being conducted in a discriminatory manner"

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver Police should have formal policies for street checks, according to a new report on the department’s actions.

A VPD report states that currently there is no policy by the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety on street checks, which is why the police took it upon itself to develop strategies for police officers.

In the future, the VPD will adopt provincial guidelines to it own policies on street checks after Victoria formalizes the policing standards. Vancouver police plans to also start publishing annual data on check in order “to strengthen public trust, confidence and transparency.”

Additionally, the recommend extra training for officers in the form of refresher sessions on the legal guidelines when personnel interact with the public as they pertain to the B.C. Human Rights Code, as well as an Indigenous Liaison Protocol Officer based out of the Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre.

The officer would be a “dedicated” point of contact for the Indigenous community who have concerns about VPD street checks.

The VPD is also planning an awareness campaign to provide information on the street check policy changes, including “on what street checks are, and why and how they are used by police.”

The action was spurred on by a complaint from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the BC Civil Liberties Association in June about police data which showed “a strong suggestion that street checks are being conducted in a discriminatory manner,” specifically that Indigenous peoples made up 16 per cent of street checks in 2017, while only accounting for two per cent of Vancouver’s demographic make-up.

Further, five per cent of 2017 street checks were of black people, who make up one per cent of Vancouver’s population. White people were subject to 57 per cent of the checks at 46 per cent of the total.

Dylan Mazur, community lawyer with the BCCLA, applauds the recommendations, but says the report only includes the perspective of police. He says any changes in policies should include the perspective of the communities most affected by street checks.

“Regardless of the intent of police officers, the communities are experiencing these street checks as discriminatory, as criminalizing their day-to-day lives and i think before any policies develop, we need to understand the experiences of racialized communities.”

The report will be presented to the Police Board and Policy Complaint Review Committee tomorrow.

– with files from Lasia Kretzel