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Community members threaten legal action if new 'carding' policy approved

Last Updated Apr 14, 2015 at 6:45 pm EDT

A group of concerned community members are threatening to take legal action if changes to the police ‘carding’ policy are approved.

Last month Toronto police and their board announced the new policy aimed at preventing discrimination against the public and addressing the controversial policy.

But some insist the new policy takes a massive step backward in relieving the tension and controversy surrounding the issue.

“The current Toronto Police Services Board has declared war on us,” Valerie Steele with the Black Action Defense Committee, explained.

“It is appalling and disgraceful that the outgoing Chief of Police, in cahoots with mayor John Tory and his friend Andrew Pringle, believes that knowledgeable community resisters, like myself, would not find totally unpalatable this proposed racial profiling policy.”

In April, the Toronto Police Services Board unanimously approved a ‘carding’ policy that included making it mandatory for officers to hand out receipts after every interaction and officers had to make it very clear that these conversations were voluntary.

Neither of those rules appear in the new policy.

“This proposed policy and its proponents are spitting in the collective faces of the black community in Toronto and rubbing salt in our wounds that Toronto Police have already inflicted on us,” Steele said. “The Police Services Board should reject this offensive document and get the fortitude to implement the policy the board agreed to in April 2014.”

Cutty Duncan, a community organizer with the campaign to Stop Police Carding, said that the new policy neglects the years of community consultation done before the previous policy was approved.

“We’ve been organizing, trying to find some kind of way where we could support the police in doing good work, but at the same time not hinder young people’s lives,” Duncan explained. “The work we’ve done has really been for not. We thought we’d made some progress but we’ve really taken some big steps backwards right now.”

When asked for a response from Chief Blair, Toronto police released the following statement:

“Until the policy has been finalized by the board, we will not respond to speculation on the part of some community members.”

Since Blair’s last day as chief is next week, the group is asking that any decisions on the practice be left to his replacement instead of being finalized in two days.

“The entire board should resign if this policy is passed,” Steele said. “We deserve better.”

The group is asking anyone who disputes the new engagement policy to come to police headquarters on Thursday to make a deputation against it at the Toronto Police Services Board meeting.

If the new policy is approved, the group is threatening to take legal action.