06/11/2015 06:07 EDT | Updated 06/11/2016 05:59 EDT

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders defends lawful carding after mayor objects

Toronto's police chief says he does not support allowing officers to randomly stop citizens, but stopped short of saying he agrees with Mayor John Tory's call to end the controversial practice of carding.

"When we do it properly, it is lawful," Mark Saunders told CBC's Metro Morning host Matt Galloway on Thursday morning.

Carding allows police officers to stop and question people to gather information — intelligence that is then stored indefinitely in a secret database. Critics have blasted it for targeting young black men and others from ethnic minorities.

But Saunders said people are defining carding in different ways. Many say it involves the random stopping of citizens.

"I do not endorse that. I do not support that," Saunders said, reiterating that he has been opposed to random stops since he started his term as police chief in recent weeks.

He said that as long as the practice is evidence-led, it helps to increase community safety. He has said it is a key part of his police force's strategy when it comes to dealing with gangs in the city.

Tory recently called for an end to carding. He said the system has "eroded the public trust," and he plans to go before Toronto's police board on June 18 and call for the practice to be eliminated.

When asked if he agreed with Tory's assessment that it eroded the public trust, Saunders skirted the question.

"I work for the oversight. The oversight will tell me what to do," Saunders said, adding that they work together and will fix whatever problems are out there.

Saunders also faces a court challenge against the practice.

Knia Singh, a Toronto law student, says he has been repeatedly carded by the police due to his race. He claims that carding and the retention of personal information through it are illegal, as it is is a breach of rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Saunders said Singh has the right to take his matter before the courts.