Urban Alliance Submission on the Toronto Police Services Board Proposed Community Contact Card Policy

April 24, 2014

Urban Alliance on Race Relations Submission to Toronto Police Services Board on Proposed Community Contact Policy

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations is pleased that the TPSB is reconsidering its community contact policy in light of public discussions of how Carding affects communities and individuals – we have all learned that police policies that have a negative and disproportionate effect on racialized communities will not garner the support of the general public. Carding has been discredited.

Through the public discussions on Carding – discussions in the media, discussions held in community forums and town halls across the city, we have learned that we need to have accountability built into police practices so that policies such as police community contacts can be reviewed by third parties (such as the Toronto Star which did the statistical analysis on Carding).

This statistical analysis was startling to most people, but for affected racialized people and communities, it validated their experiences of alienation from police and feelings of distrust due to high-volume and often aggressive street checking. This policy has had a damaging effect on community relations which needs to be addressed and repaired if police want to have community support.

We do not feel that this replacement community contacts policy is the tool to build trust between police and racialized communities. There are other more productive ways that community engagement can happen and we encourage police to take other strategies that can build trust and productive relationships. There are real problems of guns and gangs in our streets, and we all share concern. But Carding has been counter-productive to dealing with problems and a replacement policy is not the way to go.

We need community policing that takes into account Human Rights, must be in keeping with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and ultimately we need policing that ‘serves and protects’ all of us equally.

UARR is part of the Stop Police Carding Coalition which works against arbitrary intelligence gathering – we are not confident that this new policy will put a stop to this practice. We echo the concerns of the Law Union in their submission to you on this new community contact policy. We stand in solidarity with them and other organizations which encourage the TPSB to tackle the difficult problems of community policing with proactive strategies and better tools that can withstand public scrutiny.

As we have for more than 35 years, the UARR stands ready to work with the police to find better ways to work with the community on public safety initiatives. We will continue to work with Stop Police Carding coalition in the community as this issue continues.

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