Effective January 1 2017 all Ontario police officers must be trained in how to conduct proper interactions with residents according to Graham Wight the new police service advisor for Northern Ontario in a presentation to Timmins Police Services Board yesterday.
“The training requirement has to do with the collection of identifying information of individuals stopped by police officers in Ontario,” Wight said. “It stems primarily over the concern with the practice of carding in Southern Ontario."
Police across the province have to undertake training so they can meet the requirements for the collection of identifying information under the new Ontario Police Services Act regulation
“The Ministry has mandated that as of January 1, 2017 all Ontario police boards and chiefs of police should have a policy in place with respect to the collection of identifying information in certain circumstances,” Wight added.
The new regulation requires that all officers in Ontario be trained. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services together with the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN) established a roundtable to put together a training curriculum that all officers in the province must take by the new year.
“The expectation of the ministry is that every single officer who participates in the collection of information must have completed the courses by January 1, 2017,” Wight said.
The training is being offered at the Ontario Police College at the end of September and the other at the end of October.
“The education program will be based on the “train the trainer” approach with 30 master trainers trained who then will take the course throughout the province,” Wight added.
The training consists of two hours of online classes offered by CPKN and six hours of in class expectations to help police officers understand the regulation. The course will examine what the new regulation will mean on their job, interacting with people, collecting information.
Among the new changes that police will start using is that police must inform any residents who are voluntarily stopped that they have a right not to give any identifying information.
Police also must, under the new regulations, provide residents with an explanation as to why they are being stopped and questioned.
The regulation requires that police reasons for stopping and interacting with an individual cannot be arbitrary or be based on a person’s decision to follow their right not to answer the police officer.
The police also cannot stop and interact with an individual just because they happen to be in a location with a high crime rate.
The regulation will also require police to offer citizens their name, badge number, and a contact at the Office of the Independent Police Review Director should they have concerns about the exchange with the officer.
The new regulation is designed to establish a fairer approach to the way street checks are handled by police that today many perceive are racially biased and target racial minorities.
“Should an interaction occur and the individual communicate with the police officer, a copy of the conversation must be provided to the individual on request,” Wight added.
The regulation will also require police services to keep statistics on all interactions with residents known as street checks. The statistics must be kept by age, race and gender.
This information will be compiled in the annual report of each police services across Ontario.
“The regulation makes it very clear that police officers cannot attempt to collect your identifying information simply based on the way you look or the neighbourhood you live in," said then Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Yasir Naqvi in a statement earlier this year.
“Arbitrary and race-based stops to collect and store personal information based on nothing more than the colour of one’s skin are illegitimate, disrespectful and have no place in our society,” he added.
Naqvi was named Ontario’s Attorney General in June, 2016 and was replaced by David Orazietti as the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.