Edmonton Police Accused of Racism Continuing Street Check Program

Edmonton Police Service is continuing the controversial practice of street checking or “carding”, despite being accused of racism from groups in Edmonton.  Black Lives Matter along with Indigenous groups are calling for a ban on carding when police do random spot checks on individuals and collect their personal information.  They say too often Indigenous and black people are targeted.  They are calling for the Edmonton Police Service to scrap the program by the end of the year.

“Street checks are the process of arbitrarily stopping and collecting information from individuals who are not suspected of committing a crime.” says Bashir Mohamed from Black Lives Matter Edmonton.  They requested data about who Edmonton Police are stopping.  They found Indigenous individuals are 4 times more likely to be stopped than their white counterparts.  Indigenous women face the highest rates at 6.5 times than the number of white women checked, and black Edmontonians are 3.6 times more likely to be carded than white Edmontonians.

Edmonton police conduct about 26,000 of these checks per year.  Many are simply situations where officers ask people how they are doing.  In some cases officers collect personal identifications.  The practice is based on criminal profiling, not racial profiling, the police stress.  Talking to the community is critical to the EPS’ work.  All officers are trained on racial vs criminal profiling.  Loosing the ability to conduct street checks would compromise the ability for officers to do their jobs, police argue.

“As much as community-based policing model is in our DNA, I would almost say or suggest that we move to a relationship-based policing model, where relationships with the community are important on all levels.”  said Insp. Dan Jones, EPS Investigative Supports Branch, “whether that be our youth, our business owners, our vulnerable population, or our criminally involved.”

“We’re continuing to see the number in our street checks decline.” says EPS.  In 2016, the Edmonton Police put in place a new street check policy.  They say these numbers don’t tell the whole story, and they may be misrepresented geographically like in downtown problem areas.  “We’re not just randomly arbitrarily stopping people.  That were doing it in those areas that we’ve identified to have issues with crime.”  Some community groups are defending the practice.  “Had they not checked on me, I probably could have been dead a few times, you know, because there was times where I needed them to check on me” said Theresa Strong, a former gang member.  “I needed to go to jail for the night and sleep for the night or something because I was so addicted.”

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It’s a controversial practice across Canada, with Ontario banning random carding at the start of this year.  But critics say the rules don’t go far enough, some saying officers can still gather private and sensitive information if they say they are probing a crime.  Last week, a Lethbridge, Alberta lawyer also called for the checks to be stopped.  The province’s Justice Minister has already formed a group to review police checks.  Kathleen Ganley says “consulting with Albertans is the next step in determining if changes are needed or should they be stopped all together.”

She went on to say “Community based policing can build trust and relationships that prevent criminal activity and keep communities safe.  Police are expected to use this tool in accordance with Alberta’s Provincial Policing Standards, which indicates policing must be impartial to all persons and service must be provided without regard to race or ethnic origin.  I and my office have been in contact with Edmonton Police Chief; Rod Kencht, and I understand the EPS has been examining their practices regarding street checks, including having reached out to the Alberta Human Rights Commission to ensure they are following best practices.  Although we have not received any formal or specific complaints related to street checks, my office has been in contact with the Alberta Human Rights Commission to ensure that policing practices respect the diversity of this province.  We will continue to seek guidance from the Commission.”

 


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55 COMMENTS


55 COMMENTS

    • Nick Krock
      June 29, 2017 at 2:25 PM
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      Um if a cop walks up to you in the street you don’t have to say a God dam thing to then nor do you have to provide them with any identification

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    • Steve Friske
      June 29, 2017 at 1:37 AM
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      Also add one to the list, if you break a driving infraction on a bicycle if you don’t have ID you have to provide your legitimate name or you can get charged with obstructing justice.

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    • Neil Van Den Bussche
      June 29, 2017 at 10:39 AM
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      Questioning is not illegal and as far this whole thing goes sounds like someone is trolling for bigots …, Fact Canadian jails have only 25% are First Nations……Fact 90% of all crimes in the city of Edmonton Happen in the downtown core, so if the police are not allowed to talk to people in this area…… color or race are not the problem people trying to lay blame somewhere else is

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    • August 31, 2017 at 12:22 AM
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      No you can not just walk away from a police officer or else you would be arrest!!

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  • June 28, 2017 at 8:13 PM
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    Very uplifting.

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  • Gary Cameron
    June 28, 2017 at 9:11 PM
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    What if I told you that you don’t have to show ID to a police officer unless you’ve either been arrested or are operating a motor vehicle?

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  • Kel E Ameroh
    June 28, 2017 at 10:43 PM
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    Since I was a teenager and travelling around Edmonton on the bus to the Library and various events at Churchill square, I was told that I had to carry ID and show it to a police officer if approached and asked to prove I was not a vagrant. That I had a home address. Seemed reasonable. I’ve never been asked but there are a million people in town so just figured it was due to the randomness of the checks.
    I’m not sure if I would ever be offended if asked to show ID. If you are not doing anything wrong why be offended?

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  • Nicole El Assaad
    June 28, 2017 at 6:00 PM
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    This is so ridiculous. Everything is racial these days to people. They do these street checks in areas of higher crime like downtown and just outside downtown where the population is higher if the races being so offended. Like already me tiobed here if you didn’t do a trying wrong then what’s the big deal. They have every right to ask people for id because it is actually illegal to be over the age of 18 a d not carry Id. $250 fine.

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    • O
      June 28, 2017 at 7:18 PM
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      Kim Downs no public safety is the issue . Stop me and ask for my I’d all you want . Why in the hell would that offend anyone . Was asked plenty for it when we were teens in the wrong places

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    • O
      June 28, 2017 at 7:26 PM
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      Kim Downs well hate to say it but the areas they are carding may have more from certain races no ?
      And I’m not trying to be a whitey not getting it , but they are doing this on areas where we have high transiency rates and we know certain groups are at a disadvantage

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    • Nicole El Assaad
      June 28, 2017 at 6:55 PM
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      My white privilege??? My race is half of other than Caucasian. I’m not at all racist but I’m not going to pull a race card if I get id’ d by the cops! They are doing their jobs!

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    • Miles Henderson
      June 28, 2017 at 7:21 PM
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      Okay Nicole, I’m calling in that. Please show me in the criminal code where it says that it’s illegal to be over the age of 18 and NOT carry ID

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    • Kim Downs
      June 28, 2017 at 7:21 PM
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      so carding every black person they see inatead of every white person is ok?? the numbers dont lie

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    • Kim Downs
      June 28, 2017 at 7:22 PM
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      Maura O’Donoghue-Wiull when they are harrasing one race over the other based on race then yes thats the issue

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    • Nicole El Assaad
      June 28, 2017 at 8:21 PM
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      I had a friend that was actually issued a fine when she couldn’t produce her id when asked.

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    • Ashley Lyons
      June 28, 2017 at 6:52 PM
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      “everything is racial these days to people”…

      Canada as we know it today was built on racism and to this day is a huge problem, hence why a lot of issues stem from racism and will continue to be an issue until the problem is solved.

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  • Ruth Holmgren
    June 28, 2017 at 7:20 PM
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    If they are transients on the street check them period yellow, black white red or purple!

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  • Mike Hill
    June 28, 2017 at 8:10 PM
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    You don’t have to provide ID if no laws have been broken. Is that not the case? I have refused before and the officer agreed it was optional.

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  • Rehcuk Sinat
    June 28, 2017 at 8:25 PM
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    How do you prove this? Unless you are present for an officers entire shift and keep count of everyone he requests identification from. Show your ID and stop looking for a reason to whine and complain. People should stop spreading “laws” based on the crap someone told them on the interwebs. Too many people take it as truth and then go try to form a one man protest based on stupidity.

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  • Karen Menshik Hfs
    June 28, 2017 at 11:13 PM
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    Safety and protection first … who gives a shit what race you are….pretty sure the OTHER race get Id too .. police are doing their job !

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    • GF Kristie
      June 29, 2017 at 6:34 AM
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      And it’s comments like that this that make you part of the problem and not part of the solution. So in this same respect it’s alright to let them into your home if you haven’t done anything wrong and don’t need a warrant! Bet you have the same outlook on your privacy too eh? Sure invade my privacy as I haven’t done anything wrong…lol SMH no wonder why we are decades behind other first world nations when it comes to policy!

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  • Bernadine Wapasuce
    June 28, 2017 at 7:47 PM
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    good timing considering how many indigenous people around the world are going to be in this city and province for the World Indigenous Games. What kind of impression are they going to get when they get stopped by the police “just to check” individuals. I had out of town visitors get carded and one even get a ticket for loitering just because they were sitting and watching the festivals that were happening on Whyte ave. Funny how they have never come back and spent money in this city after that.

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  • Glenn Gorham
    June 29, 2017 at 8:24 AM
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    If your a law abiding legal citizen who isn’t a piece of garbage this shouldn’t be an issue

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  • Sharon Lassey-Thompson
    June 30, 2017 at 1:03 PM
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    My teenaged white privileged daughter was pulled over on our range road last week by the police she was doing 40 km/hr coming home from work….. reason they pulled her over??? Multiple attempted B & E in the area… we didnt go on social media screaming discrimination or racism. The police were doing their job keeping our neighborhood safe.

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  • Kitty Red Sylver
    June 28, 2017 at 8:59 PM
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    If you have nothing to hide and have done nothing wrong, then just show your I.d. Or dont and move along.

    Its not rocket science

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    • Gary Cameron
      June 28, 2017 at 9:42 PM
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      “Nothing to hide” is a cop out for people not willing to stand up for their rights. By showing ID when I don’t need to I’m encouraging cops to breach my rights and the rights of others. Not going to do it.

      Be polite and respectful. The good cops will be fine with that. The bad ones not so much.

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    • Gary Cameron
      June 28, 2017 at 9:11 PM
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      Always a “nothing to hide” in the crowd. smh

      I for one believe in standing up for m rights.

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    • Neal Davidson
      June 28, 2017 at 9:40 PM
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      But Gary they only said they were doing it for my safety…. why am I now living in a police state….

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      • August 31, 2017 at 12:21 AM
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        Seriously? You honestly have no idea what you are talking about Kitty. If you fully read the article, it stated that it cards indigenous and blacks more times than white individuals. Which is wrong and racial profiling. Also, no police office should stop Anyone regardless what race that person is.I guess you would not know what racial profiling is because your white privilege!!

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    • Neal Davidson
      June 28, 2017 at 9:45 PM
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      Gary could you bend over a moment here while I check a certain cavity… we are only checking for rabid ferrets!!! We know you likely not to be hiding any but for yours and the public’s safety we have to check.

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    • Kitty Red Sylver
      June 28, 2017 at 9:58 PM
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      And you’re allowed to say no to the request as was previously stated. Ive been stopped by the cops on numerous occasions, I just answer their questions and move on

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    • Gary Cameron
      June 28, 2017 at 9:58 PM
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      Kitty Red Sylver … The fact police are asking in the first place is what bothers me. Most people don’t know and simply comply because they’re asked and are unknowingly giving up their rights.

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