The Saga of BCCLAs Street Checks Complaint

This is a test r1 Nobody should be subjected to the illegal practice of police street checks. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Hi Friend,

Nobody should be subjected to the illegal practice of police street checks.

A police street check is a discretionary police practice where police stop a person in public, and question them outside the context of an arrest or detention. No provincial or federal statute authorizes street checks in BC, nor are they authorized by common law developed by courts.

In our attempts to ban street checks, the BCCLA has gone deep down the rabbit role of police governance in Vancouver. Our deeply frustrating experience over the past three years is a crucial window into the complete institutional failure of police governance bodies, such as the Vancouver Police Board.

Read about our three-year process of holding police accountable for street checks in a blog by our outgoing Executive Director.

Our work to end police street checks at the level of the Vancouver Police Board includes:

  • May 2018: Making... a policy complaint. The BCCLA and Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) filed a joint Policy Complaint calling for an immediate investigation into the significant racial disparity and over-representation of Indigenous and Black people revealed in the VPD's own data on street checks.
  • July 2018: Advocating against police self-investigation. The Vancouver Police Board informed the BCCLA and UBCIC that the VPD would be conducting the investigation into the Complaint. The BCCLA and UBCIC again wrote to the Vancouver Police Board, explaining why VPD self-investigation in relation to our street checks complaint was problematic, lacked independence, and a violation of the basic tenets of administrative law.
  • February 2020: Challenging an external review run by former police officer. The Vancouver Police Board then hired Pyxis Consulting, run by a former Edmonton police superintendent, review and report on VPD street checks. The 2020 report assumed and concluded that street checks are valuable and non-discriminatory, despite the lack of any evidence in the review to support the claim. Alongside UBCIC and Black Lives Matter (BLM), we issued a statement expressing strong concerns with the methodology and findings of the Pyxis-authored Street Check Review Report.
  • June 2020: Exposé of disturbing VPD conduct during Street Checks Review. We received two shocking letters from the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, revealing that the Pyxis-authorized report had removed an extremely relevant section on inappropriate VPD conduct and comments about racialized and vulnerable people. In November 2020, a high profile media investigation revealed that this section was removed after the Vancouver Police Board Street Checks Review Committee released an interim draft to the VPD. The BCCLA and UBCIC again wrote to the Vancouver Police Board, highlighting the public trust at stake in light of the revelations of VPD interference and censorship.
  • December 2020: Provincial Review of Vancouver Police Board. In December 2020, the provincial Director of Police Services appointed David Loukidelis, BC’s former Privacy Commissioner, to conduct a review of the Vancouver Police Board’s response to our complaint and its level of independence from the VPD. We are now awaiting the public report of this recently completed investigation.

Our long back-and-forth with the Vancouver Police Board sheds a critical light on the failures of what is supposed to be civilian police board governance and raises serious concerns about the Vancouver Police Board’s independence from the Vancouver Police Department. No matter what happens next with the outcome of the Provincial review, we are committed to see this through.

Read more on our blog.

Thank you for your support.

Meghan McDermott (she/her/hers)
Staff Counsel, Policy

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