VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver Police Department’s street check policy is in for a second review, this time from an independent third party.
This is after the department concluded that such checks, which allow officers to stop and question people who have not been accused of a crime, were not discriminatory.
While the VPD’s report acknowledged the number of black and Indigenous people targeted by the street checks was disproportionate given the population, the data did not suggest discrimination.
It says the vast majority of those stopped and questioned had been investigated for criminal activity many times before.
The report’s six recommendations include calls to formalize existing street check standards, make street check data public and continue training sessions to ensure officers stay within their legal authority when conducting the checks. But now a third party will be brought in to re-examine the policy.
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“What we have today is a report of the police perspective, but what we need is the community perspective,” said BC Civil Liberties Association lawyer Dylan Mazur. “It’s still an ongoing debate whether or not street checks are an effective law enforcement tool and that is something that we still need to understand.”
He said even though the department’s review is very thorough, he emphasized the importance of having the input of a third-party.
“It’s really important that there also be an independent look so that the police board, the city government, and even the province can have a really balanced perspective when they’re making decisions about what the policy should be in relation to street checks,” Mazur added.
Chief Adam Palmer, who commissioned the first report following complaints earlier this year, said he’s fine with a third party taking another look.
“We are an open and transparent organization and if they want a third party to come in and you know, look at the books, we’re fine with that,” he said.
Palmer added that street checks are an important tool for police.
“Street checks are used very judiciously in the city and they are checked as a proactive policing tool to prevent crime but I also recognize that some members of the public do have concerns.”
The new review will begin in January.
-With files from Canadian Press