Street Checks Are Not Racist
by Collin Wynter
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
There has been a 161% increase in shootings from 2014-2020, as researched by Lori Goldstein and reported in the Toronto Sun. In 2020 alone, there has been 460 shootings, which led to an 111% increase in the number of people injured or killed form gun violence.
Why is Goldstein using 2014 as a base year?
Because that is the year the police were told by politicians from across the board to stop doing street checks.
Street checks are when police stop individuals, question them for information and possibly search them, which may lead to an arrest. Synonymous with that term is: carding, stop and search, stop and frisk, and even profiling. All of these actions have the intent to stop crime.
What is the cause of the increase in gun violence? Goldstein believes it to be from “armed gangs fighting over turf, prostitution and drugs.” And the solution? Reinstitute street checks.
In 2005, Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of Canada under Justin Trudeau, was the police commissioner for Toronto. After the season known as the “summer of the gun” he instituted street checks. The number of shooting between 2005-2014 dropped by 32%. And the number of people injured or killed dropped by 55%.
Goldstein finishes his piece by discussing why the street checks ended. Because they were used indiscriminately. Something he agrees with. There was supposed to be legislation by the Ontario Liberals to protect citizen’s rights during these checks, while at the same time allowing for them to continue. But it never came to fruition. The reason: politicians are terrified of the racist label.
Toronto is not alone
Although former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg (2002-2013), now decries the stop and frisk policy that he once so vehemently supported, current mayoral candidate, Eric Adams, supports the policy.
On CBS New York, Adams called it “A great tool.” Saying that is should never have been removed. He does feel that under Bloomberg it had been used incorrectly, such as stopping and searching kids and finding marijuana which led to charges. But he is confident that it can be applied with great effect.
“Let’s use the tool correctly. I used it as a law enforcement officer, I supervised officers who used it, it’s a great tool,” Adams said.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Bloomberg, who was running for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020, would suddenly find himself regretting past policies. The narrative of “defund the police” was almost a mantra among the democrat candidates.
All the way back in 2013, though, a black officer with 20 years experience from the New York City Police Department went on record with the NY Daily News to state:
“Stop-and-frisk is never about race. It’s about behavior.”
The experience cops gain on the street, whom to search and why, is vital to keeping the public and themselves- safe. They can tell who carries guns by the way men hold their belts. They know to search men first, when stopping a group that includes women. In effect, they profile potential criminals.
Across the Pond
The United Kingdom (UK) has gun crime, but knife crime is also a concern.
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK, supports the stop and search power for police, and encourages expanding them. This is being considered even though the statistics show that racial minorities have a higher rate of being stopped.
In July of 2021, Black and Ethnic minorities (BAME) were reported to be stopped nine times more than white persons. Previously, there was also concern about police using the smell of cannibas to justify the stop and search.
Cannabis is illegal to possess, grow, distribute or sell in the UK.
Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock, the National Police Chief Council’s lead for stop and search, said in the Independent that stop and search is an:
“important tool used by officers to prevent crime, identify those who intend to cause harm and disrupt serious and organised crime networks”.
The effects of such a polecat resulted in “11,000 knives, firearms and other weapons have been removed from our streets in 2019-20 and resulted in over 74,000 arrests,” While he does note there is concern about the majority of these offences being caused by persons from non-white and minority backgrounds.
What is to be done?
If you are to listen to the law enforcement officers above, stop and search is a valuable tool that is required in policing to deter crime and and ensure the safety of the community.
If you are to listen to social justice activists such as Black Lives Matter (BLM), stop and search is a systemically racist policy that intentionally targets racial minorities to incriminate them without justification.
However, it has been pointed out by Goldstein, Adams, as well as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (UK), that the policy has limits and should be used appropriately. Abuse of the policy will cause the general public to take a distaste for it.
By activists interfering in street checks, they may unintentionally be increasing the amount of crime.