Although Victoria council voted to raise the issue of street checks at the next police board meeting, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins says street checks aren’t an issue in the Township. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Esquimalt mayor says police use ‘compassionate check-ins’

Subject of street checks slated for Esquimalt and Victoria Police Board meeting Sept. 15

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins has a different take on police street checks than Victoria council.

Desjardins, who is also the lead co-chair of the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board, says police are not using street checks – the act of stopping and recording information from people who aren’t official suspects in a criminal offense – but are using “compassionate check-ins” with people in the town.

She says the two municipalities have different policing needs.

“This is really one of those things that challenges our department – the fact that you have two very different communities with two very different sets of needs and two very different sets of directions,” she said. “We don’t have the bars, we don’t have the tourism, we’re not the core community … we don’t have the homelessness problem. We don’t have the things that heighten the challenges for downtown Victoria and certainly not to the same extent.”

READ ALSO: Victoria council looks to ban police street checks

On July 23, Victoria council voted unanimously to seek a ban on street checks. The decision came as part of an effort to address racism in the community and society at large.

Data from VicPD shows that in 2016, 84 per cent of people street checked were not visible minorities, though they composed 82 per cent of the population.

Indigenous people made up six per cent of total street checks but were 4.8 per cent of the population. Ethnic data was not reported for six per cent of total street checks.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and dozens of other organizations have put out a call to ban the practice, which is known to disproportionately target Indigenous, Black and people of colour.

READ ALSO: Indigenous women over represented in Vancouver police checks

Desjardins points to statements by Victoria Police Chief Del Manak, who said the police force doesn’t support random or arbitrary stops, but does support officers “initiating conversations” where there is a “reasonable and unbiased reason to do so.”

“Our police force is already not doing improper street checks, so I’m not sure what the issue is,” Desjardins said. “Our police officers do a lot of extra training around understanding their personal bias [and] overcoming discrimination. Certainly everything I’ve seen in Esquimalt when it comes to a street check is done with compassion and understanding and it’s not done unless there’s a reason to do it.”

Esquimalt council is on break until mid-August. Desjardins emphasizes that she speaks only from her own opinion.

The matter is set to be discussed at the next Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board meeting Sept. 15.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

racismTownship of EsquimaltVicPDVictoria Police Department

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Saanich council seeks more information after hearing Uptown-Douglas plan

Council asks for further reports on economic, housing, transportation plans for corridor

Alf Todd on a mission to fight Parkinson’s disease

Todd and group hope to raise $10,000 riding bikes to Port Alberni

Victoria police seize replica handgun and bullets

Unrelated call leads police to functional replica

Man arrested after stabbing incident at makeshift camp near Vancouver Island mall

RCMP in Parksville report 28-year-old man taken into custody without incident

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Most Read