VANCOUVER Mayor Kennedy Stewart on Monday announced his plans to begin the process of ending the practice of street checks in Vancouver. He said he will introduce a motion calling on Council to affirm this priority and ask the Vancouver Police Board to begin this work.
“Thanks to the actions of the Province and the Police Board, 89 percent of street checks have already been ended, but we can’t stop there. Now is the time to bring the practice to a complete end,” said Stewart. “Black, Indigenous and other communities of colour have long called for an end to this practice, and that is what I hope to see happen at the Police Board.”
While the Mayor chairs the Vancouver Police Board, he does not have the ability to vote, except in the event of a tie, and cannot move Police Board motions. Therefore his council motion will be the first step in having the Police Board abolish street checks.
The full text of the motion:
WHEREAS people and organizations around the world and in Vancouver (including the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, Black Lives Matter Vancouver, and the Hogan’s Alley Society) are calling for reforms to how police services are delivered, including ending street checks – the practice of stopping a person outside of an investigation, and often obtaining and recording their personal information; and,
WHEREAS data released by the Vancouver Police Department in 2018 showed almost 100,000 street checks were conducted by the VPD between 2008 and 2017, with Indigenous and Black people being significantly overrepresented in these checks compared to their proportion of the population; and
WHEREAS Based on the results of a 18-month review, in January 2020, the Vancouver Police Board approved major changes to how street checks are conducted by the Vancouver Police Department which has so far resulted in an 89 percent decrease in street checks; and
WHEREAS the Vancouver Police Board has recently committed to new actions to improve policing services including: establishing a new Black and African Diaspora Advisory Committee, providing historical awareness and cultural sensitivity training for current and future officers regarding the experiences of Black people, participating in anti-bias and cultural sensitivity training, working with the existing Indigenous Advisory Committee to improve training for current and future officers regarding Indigenous Peoples cultural sensitivity, enhancing communication between the Board, Vancouver City Council, and the Musqueam regarding the provision of policing services in Vancouver, and, reviewing the efficacy of the new street check policy; and,
WHEREAS Police Act Section 26 states “In consultation with the chief constable, the municipal police board must determine the priorities, goals and objectives of the municipal police department and that “in determining the priorities, goals and objectives of the municipal police department, the municipal police board must take into account….the priorities, goals and objectives of the council of the municipality”; and,
WHEREAS the Vancouver Police Board has the authority to end the practice of street checks in Vancouver;
WHEREAS while Police Act Section 25 states the Mayor of Vancouver chairs the Vancouver Police Board in an ex-officio capacity without the ability to vote on Police Board matters except in the event of a tie and cannot move board motions; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council direct the Mayor to write to the Vancouver Police Board to inform the Board that while Council deeply appreciates recent efforts to reform policing services and the efforts of the Police Department to quickly implement related changes, Vancouver City Council’s priority is to end the practice of street checks in Vancouver.