Victoria council considers banning police 'street checks'
VICTORIA -- Victoria city council is set to consider a ban on police “street checks” in Victoria and Esquimalt at a committee of the whole meeting Thursday.
According to a motion tabled by councillors Sharmarke Dubow, Sarah Potts, Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday, police street checks involve officers stopping an individual even if they have no connection to any observed or reported crime.
Street checks also generally involve “carding” the person who has been stopped by police to collect their personal information and identification, which is then uploaded to a police database.
According to the four Victoria councillors, street checks tend to discriminate against people of colour, particularly Black and Indigenous Canadians, as well as homeless people.
“The harmful effects of street checks have been well-documented across Canada and found to disproportionately and negatively impact members of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) community and unhoused people,” reads the motion.
The councillors are calling for VicPD to immediately end street checks in Victoria and Esquimalt.
“We see a lot of talk from the police about the benefits of street checks, but I think what we are really overlooking is the real concrete harms that they can cause,” Douglas King, executive director of the Together Against Poverty Society, told CTV News.
King says that marginalized people, especially Indigenous people, often often tell the Victoria group that they feel mistreated and targeted by police, who stop them “under the guise” of street checks.
Victoria city council is set to vote on the motion Thursday.
The controversial practice of police street checks has come under fire across Canada, with calls for police to end the practice in Vancouver and Montreal.
In late June, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart announced he was tabling a motion to end street checks in the city.
Around the same time, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs released a statement that reviewed data about street checks in Vancouver that was compiled between 2008 and 2017.
The data suggested that 15 per cent of people who were carded over this period were Indigenous, despite Indigenous people only making up two per cent of the general population.
Similarly, about four per cent of those who were carded were Black, even though Black people make up less than one per cent of Vancouver’s population.
Vancouver city council is set to vote on the motion later this month.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Kendra Mangione