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Toronto police shouldn’t stop carding, lawyer says

Lawyer Frank Addario was retained by the Toronto Police Services Board to advise it on the controversial practice of carding.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

About 80 people gathered at a board meeting Thursday to get a look at the first draft policy on police carding – collecting personal information from people and adding it to an internal database.

Lawyer Frank Addario, who was hired to create the policy by the Toronto Police Services Board in December, said he was not in favour of ending carding.

He said that would just drive bad practices underground, adding that carding has fallen dramatically – 83 or 90 per cent – in the past year.

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The draft report says procedures need to be developed that would ensure compliance with human rights laws, such as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code and municipal laws.

"Eliminating carding would be simplistic. It would not improve the police service's reputation or public trust. Instead, it would frustrate the board's oversight function and affect their ability to communicate with the community," he said.

Addario consulted several sources to draft the policy, like Toronto police and Toronto Police Association, social scientists, lawyers and community members, Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Jamil Jivani of the Policing Literary Initiative says it is much more admirable to advance the policy of carding than to simply change it.

"It's important for officers to make people feel that it's not their identity or the way they look that is the reason they are being stopped," Jivani said.

There was little discussion and some members of the public were dismayed they couldn't get a glimpse at the draft policy.

It was placed on the Toronto Police Services Board website after the meeting was underway, and there were fewer than 30 hard copies available.

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Addario expects the full final policy to be upheld for examination at a special board meeting on April 8, where the public can submit feedback orally, and adopted on April 10.

For now, people can submit feedback in writing to the board.

Police board chair Alok Mukherjee said while the board would like the policy to be finalized in April, they will not tie themselves to the exact date of April 10.

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