News / Edmonton

Police meeting with third-party reviewer on street checks as review gets underway

The meetings are part of a review ordered by the Edmonton Police Commission in July

File / Metro

Edmonton police are meeting with a third-party reviewer to discuss the practice of street checks, or carding, this week.

Chief Rod Knecht said the reviewer is meeting with officers before doing consultations with outside groups, as part of a review ordered in July by the Edmonton Police Commission.

“I’m encouraged by conversations that I’ve had so far,” Knecht said. “Certainly, based on what we’re hearing, this isn’t a big, big issue for the majority of Albertans. The majority of Albertans think that the police should be out there, they want to see their police more often.”

The practice of street checks – stopping people not suspected of a crime and collecting their personal information – came under fire in the summer after Black Lives Matter Edmonton released data showing black and Indigenous Edmontonians were significantly more likely to be stopped.

Knecht has maintained that street checks are a critical piece of police work and that officers do not target people based on race, but are more likely to stop people in areas with high incidences of crime.  

“Our police officers, they could lose their job if they target somebody based on their religious beliefs or their gender or the colour of their skin,” Knecht said.

He added that officers sometimes use street checks to help people get to shelters or connect them with mental health and addiction resources.

Black Lives Matter Edmonton will also meet with the third-party reviewer in early 2018. Knecht invited the group to a private meeting on the topic back in July, but they declined and instead held a protest outside calling for a public meeting.

Black Lives Matter member Bashir Mohamed said the group is not opposed to stopping people for mental health checks or Project KARE, but is still calling for an end to arbitrary stops commonly referred to as “carding,” which falls under the umbrella of street checks.

Mohamed said he met with Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley in the fall – the province is undergoing its own street check review – and is confident the province is open to change.

“I’m pretty optimistic with the province. I think they are taking this pretty seriously, and I think they’re also listening and understanding where we stand,” Mohamed said.

“We’re less optimistic when it comes to the city.”

More on