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Public input on Saskatoon street checks submitted for provincial regulation

Click to play video: 'With no provincial policy, police street check debate continues in Saskatoon'
With no provincial policy, police street check debate continues in Saskatoon
WATCH ABOVE: Saskatoon police are using the public’s feedback to help formulate a provincial street check policy. Jacqueline Wilson reports – Apr 21, 2016

SASKATOON – About two people are carded or street checked every day in Saskatoon, according to police. It’s done without provincial regulation, making the procedure a grey area.

“This has got to do with crime profiling and what’s going on in the streets at night. People phoning in about suspicious activity, the police checking out that activity. It’s really as simple as that,” said Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill.

But not everyone agrees it’s that simple. Many, like University of Saskatchewan law professor Glen Luther, believe the practice needs to be abolished.

“Where the police approach someone on the street, do not warn them that they do not have to speak to them and start asking them questions about what they’re up to, asking for their identification and so on,” said Luther.

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READ MORE: Saskatoon police chief wants to engage public on street checks

Luther believes the act is a form of racialized policing and “general suspicion” shouldn’t be a cause for questioning.

“The information suggests that someone on the street at two or 3 a.m. in the morning is suspicious. I reject that. I don’t understand how that can be suspicious. People are on the street all the time. I have the absolute right to walk down the street at 3 a.m., ” Luther said.

“The fact is the aboriginal community in the city believes that the police think that being aboriginal on the street is suspicious.”

“I actually take exception to that. We check people who are out at night in suspicious circumstances. Doesn’t matter what ethnicity they or what race they are, that’s what our job is,” said Weighill.

Taking concern into consideration, the Saskatoon board of police commissioners is looking to develop regulations and protocols to guide the practice of street checks and they’re using the public’s input.

Since February, police have asked residents to fill out a questionnaire expressing their opinions on the topic. On Thursday at City Hall, all 150 responses were submitted in a report at the police commission meeting.

“We have to be able to get together on this as a community. There has to be a way we can compromise on this,” said Weighill.

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The public feedback will be sent to the Saskatchewan police commission and be used to help formulate a provincial policy.

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