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Deputy police chief defends carding policy implementation

11/13/2014 12:10 EST | Updated 01/13/2015 05:59 EST
Toronto's deputy police chief says the city's front-line officers are making progress in earning the trust of people in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood despite recent concerns about how a new carding policy is being implemented.

"The crime situation has significantly turned around … as has the relationship with local police," said Sloly in an interview on CBC Radio's Metro Morning Thursday. "Have we addressed all the crime problems in that area? No. Have we addressed all the trust and legitimacy issues in that area? No, but we have made progress."

Sloly was reacting to news that police have been slow to implement new policies around carding, the police practice of stopping people on the street to gather information about them.

A policy approved in April added new restrictions to carding. For example, police must only stop people for a legitimate safety reason and inform them of their right to walk away from the interview. Also, the interviews are not allowed to continue for an extended period of time.

But a study by consultant Neil Price and conducted in the summer found what Price calls "widespread non-compliance" with the new policy.

Price surveyed 400 residents in 31 Division, which includes the Jane and Finch neighbourhood, and found that often police weren't following the new carding rules.

"We heard people say that this has led them to have a huge level of mistrust in the police," he said. "There's a sense that they're constantly being harassed in the community."

Sloly, however, said officers have not yet been fully trained about the new carding rules.

"What Mr. Price is measuring is the officers' performance on the old existing set of standards and rules," he said. "The work of Mr. Price has actually been done in advance of us changing the procedure."

Sloly said the overall number of cardings has been reduced by 95 per cent.

"I accept we have a significant issue of trust … we're doing a lot and we've made progress," he said.

The findings of Price's report will be discussed at today's Toronto Police Services Board meeting.

Alok Mukherjee, the police board chair, told CBC News that the results of the Price's survey are disturbing, but said there is more to the story.

He said the board is waiting for Chief Bill Blair to finalize and provide a definition of the words "public safety purpose" for community contacts. That draft procedure is still a work in progress.

"I don't think we can lay the blame on the officers if we are not giving them a clear guidance," he said in an interview with CBC News on Wednesday.

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