Toronto police officers can no longer accost you for no reason

Toronto police officers can no longer accost you for no reason

(Image: William Mewes) (Image: William Mewes)
 

At a special meeting on Thursday, the Toronto Police Services Board approved a long-awaited new policy that forbids police officers from questioning civilians for no clear reason—which, yes, is something police officers were able to do. If you didn’t know that already, you’re statistically very likely to be a white person. That was the problem.

The practice, known as “carding,” allowed police officers to collect information from people who weren’t suspected of any specific involvement in crime. Toronto Police Service brass have defended carding as a vital part of community policing, but a 2012 Toronto Star investigation made it clear that people with dark skin were disproportionately likely to be stopped. Thursday’s police-board vote was the culmination of months of soul-searching and lawsuits at police headquarters.

Under the new rules, according to the Star, police won’t be able to card people unless investigating a specific occurrence. Police also have to give out “receipts” that explain the reasons for a stop. The board plans to review the changes in October, at which point the rules could be revised again.