Vancouver’s chief of police said on Tuesday that his department will release a detailed report on its use of street checks in September – though two advocacy groups who have complained that the checks disproportionately involve people who are Indigenous or black say the department should not be investigating itself.
Chief Constable Adam Palmer has called street checks a valuable public safety tool, and said his officers have done nothing wrong.
“Our officers do not engage in racial profiling or bias,” he told reporters.
The Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the BC Civil Liberties Association filed a complaint last month. The complaint followed stories in The Globe and Mail that said, according to data released by the Vancouver Police Department, individuals who were Indigenous or black were disproportionately stopped.
Mr. Palmer has previously said his department does not control where crime falls along racial lines. On Tuesday, he said it is preparing its response to the complaint, which will be heard at a Vancouver police board meeting Sept. 20.
“I am putting forward a very fulsome report. It’s not something I can explain in 30 seconds to you. But in September, you’ll see the full report that will come out and we’ll have really good data and analysis,” he said.
Mr. Palmer’s comments came the same day that the groups who filed the complaint sent a letter to Vancouver’s police board expressing concern about the process.
The letter said that while it is customary for the department to investigate policy complaints, the chief’s recent comments suggest the department has already formed its conclusions on the matter.
The letter urged the board to commission outside experts to study the issue.
“While we appreciate the speed of the Chief’s decision to engage in this work, we are highly troubled by the lack of independence, and the lack of the appearance of independence, of the VPD’s investigation,” the letter read.
Mr. Palmer, who spoke with reporters after an unrelated news conference, said some of the checks were on people’s well-being, though he could not say how many.
About 11,400 individuals were checked in 2013, but the total has fallen every year since. The number of individuals checked last year was 6,322.
When asked if the drop in street checks had affected public safety, Mr. Palmer said the September report would provide a full analysis.
“I don’t have all the analysis done yet. I want to provide a fulsome response to you, so you’ll see it then,” he said.