After RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that systemic racism exists in the national policing organization, White Rock RCMP detachment began a review of its policies and street checks to look for indication of racial bias.
Staff-Sgt. Kale Pauls said he undertook the review, in part, because Trudeau and Lucki did not provide practical examples or rational to support the conclusion of today’s RCMP.
“And I’m not referring to the past because I think history has told us there are systemic issues in many government departments,” Pauls said. “I wanted to be proactive and look at our street checks and see if there’s any indication of systemic issues, racial bias or unconscious bias.”
The ‘Brief Review of the White Rock RCMP’s Street Checks’ report, prepared for council and White Rock residents, reviewed street checks from Jan. 1, 2018 to June 20, 2020.
During that time, there were 469 street checks in the city.
The review reported that 82 per cent of the individuals checked were Caucasian, six per cent were South Asian, five per cent were Indigenous, two per cent were Asian, two per cent were Black, one per cent were Middle Eastern, one per cent were Hispanic and one per cent were unknown.
The report notes that the 2016 demographics for White Rock indicate that 16.4% of the population are visible minorities.
However, approximately 70 per cent of the street checks were conducted on people that lived outside of White Rock. Of the 70 per cent, 69 per cent were residents of Surrey, which has a visible minority population of about 58 per cent, according to 2016 census data.
“The conclusions from that is that our street checks indicate they’re being done in a bias-free way,” Pauls said.
A street check is a police interaction that serves a policing purpose, such as inquiring into suspicious behaviour, checking known offenders, and checking high risk people. Checks cannot be random or arbitrary. Street checks are voluntary, there’s no authority to search, and there’s no detention involved.
The report included a number of examples of street checks made in White Rock, including a person looking into a business window at 3 a.m., and a known property offender riding a bike without a helmet and full backpack at 7 a.m.
Street checks do not account for incidents where a police interaction results in a criminal or other offence.
The second phase of the project is to review policies surrounding prisoner treatment in White Rock. Pauls said that part of that review will include members from the Indigenous and South Asian communities.
“So that they can look, with their lens, and see if there’s anything in this policy that is discriminatory or isn’t culturally aware to that specific culture,” Pauls said.
On a provincial level, RCMP E Division Staff-Sgt. Janelle Shoihet told Peace Arch News via email that the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP has initiated a review into the RCMP’s street check policies and procedures.
She said the BC RCMP is in the process of developing new policy to align with the BC Provincial Policing Standards, which were instituted in January of this year. The new policy will apply to all BC RCMP police officers.
The policing standards policy regarding ‘police stops’ outline police obligations when interacting with the public, including procedures to safeguard rights during police interactions.
The provincial policing standards for police stops can be found here.