OTTAWA — The head of the police union blames understaffing and new restrictions on when police can conduct so-called “street checks” for the capital’s recent spike in gun violence.
Postmedia reports that Ottawa Police Association President Matt Skof says new rules that regulate when police can stop someone and ask for their identification have hampered police efforts to stop gun crime.
Since the new rules were enacted, the number of street checks each year has gone from the thousands down to single digits.
“It’s suspiciously low,” said criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt.
The new rules don’t require street checks to be reported if the police officer suspects a crime has been or is about to be committed, Spratt says. But he thinks the sudden plummeting of the number of street checks may be the result of the regulations’ broad exceptions being applied too broadly.
“That could cover an example of going to a community where there has been recent violence and stopping individuals,” Spratt told 1310 NEWS. “That is carding, that should fall under the regulations, but the police may not be interpreting it to fall under the regulations.”
Deputy Chief Steve Bell told last night’s police services board meeting that the numbers aren’t directly comparable; that some interactions, which would have been considered street checks in the past, don’t qualify as regulated interactions under the current regulations.