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Red Coalition to SPVM: amend random stops policy

  • By Joel Ceausu The Suburban, July 6th, 2023

If Montreal Police (SPVM) aren’t going to end its practice of random street checks, then the Red Coalition is challenging SPVM Director Fady Dagher to establish a framework policy around them.
Last month Dagher announced he had no intention of implementing a moratorium on random stops, the main recommendation of four researchers in a second report commissioned by the SPVM. He stated such a moratorium would only be "symbolic" and instead wants to change the organizational culture of the force, which he says causes racial profiling.
In a letter to Dagher, RC executive director Joel DeBellefeuille and director of racial profiling and public security Alain Babineau say the current SPVM policy “allowing officers to stop a pedestrian based on a ‘series of observable facts’,” is not a legal concept and provides a loophole for discriminatory stops… “interfering with individual liberty and (has) disproportionate effects on Black and Indigenous people in Montreal.”
They say Nova Scotia banned random stops province-wide in 2019 and provided guidelines for collection and recording of personal identification information by officers and in 2021 removed the term "suspicious activity" from its stops directive and replaced it with "reasonable suspicion" in cases where a crime is about to occur or has occurred.
“The Red Coalition is therefore asking the SPVM to immediately amend its policy and provide a legal framework for the practice,” and require officers to have "reasonable suspicion in cases where a crime is about to occur or has occurred" before stopping someone to gather information, requiring officers to: tell the person stopped why they want to obtain their identifying information; tell them that they may refuse to give identifying information; offer the arrestee a receipt - even if they refuse to share information - which includes the officer's name, badge number, how to contact the office of the Police Ethics Commissioner, and who to contact to obtain access to personal information held about them by the SPVM.
“Whether or not the information gathered is relevant to the SPVM's mission, for statistical purposes a report must be produced at the end of each stop, which must mention the perceived race or ethnicity of the person stopped.”
“The Red Coalition believes that only the dismantling of the current culture of denial within the SPVM will produce lasting change within the organization and eventually eradicate racial profiling. We also believe that the proposed changes will, in the meantime, play a role in mitigating the risk of discriminatory stops that currently disproportionately affect Black and Indigenous people circulating on the island of Montreal.”

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