After public outcries and reports showing that Montreal’s SPVM police officers were using systemic bias in how they were discriminatorily stopping people for street checks – SPVM releases new policy on street checks addressing the issues. At a press conference on Wednesday morning July 8th, SPVM Chief Sylvain Caron unveiled the policy – with the goal towards preventing ‘any baseless or random checks’. It addresses a report from October 2019, showing that Black people are stopped 4.2 times more often for street checks by police, Indigenous people 4.6 times (Indigenous women were stopped 11 times more often than white women) and Arabic people 2 times more often. It would also be important to note that video recordings have recently surfaced, showing several incidents of police violence against the same groups.
At the press conference, Caron said the new policy will be implemented this fall – although it is not final and could be revised as required. “For the first time, there is a policy that establishes that an inquiry must be based on observable facts and without discriminatory grounds, that is to say without regard to real or perceived ethnocultural identity, religion, gender, identity, orientation or socioeconomic status,” he said. “It seems very simple, but is an important change…there’s a lot of biases, through our training, in the way we were raised, so there’s a lot of work to do.”
SPVM releases new policy on street checks having to follow a set of guidelines when doing street checks:
- Officers will need to inform citizens what motives led to them being stopped (a ban will implemented on ‘non-founded stops based on discriminatory criteria’).
- Stopping the driver of a motor vehicle is not considered a street check.
- When doing street checks, police officers will be asked to fill out a form explaining the reasons for it, circumstances and information on the person stopped (even with those who are stopped and not arrested having the right to refuse to identify themselves – and officers are not required to inform them of their rights to not identify themselves).
- All police officers are required to attend workshops on the new policy that will be given later this summer.
- The SPVM will appoint a team to act as ‘coaches’, supporting and accompanying police as the new policy comes into effect.
- A new mandate has been given to independent researchers who will follow the implementation of the policy and recommend follow up measures where needed.
- Mayor Valerie Plante will be appointing a new anti-racism commissioner, who will report to the city manager. As well, the city’s Public Security committee said there will be public consultations on the new street check policy.