TORONTO, March 23, 2016 /CNW/ - The Police Association of Ontario (PAO) is disappointed the Ontario government has chosen to significantly inhibit the use of an investigative tool instead of regulating the practice, a move that will inevitably lead to less effective policing and higher crime rates.
"While we support standardizing street check practices and prohibiting collection based on race or other arbitrary factors, compelling officers to divulge investigative motives during street checks will obstruct officers from protecting the public," says PAO President Bruce Chapman. "Under these new regulations, a patrolling officer attempting to engage a suspicious member of the public is stripped of his ability to effectively collect information. By immediately having to inform the individual of their right to walk away, the officer will learn nothing about the individual and have no record of their interaction."
Identification procedures are typically used when a uniformed officer stops an individual that is in an area known for a number of unsolved sexual assaults or break-ins as an example. This individual may not be a suspect, but could be a witness or know something that can lead to an arrest. While individuals stopped as a result of police checks have a right to not disclose their name if they do not want to, most of the public want to help the police when it comes to ensuring the protection of their communities.
"With this regulation, the Government risks scenarios where a police officer may actually tip off a suspect of an investigation by not providing the mandated caution and receipt," says Chapman. "This could turn a benign situation into a potentially volatile and unnecessarily dangerous situation."
The PAO believes reducing the officer's ability to collect legitimate information will result in fewer crimes solved and potentially an increase in crime rates for Ontarians. The PAO will continue to study the effects of the new regulations against street checks and report any concerns to the Ontario government.
Founded in 1933, the Police Association of Ontario (PAO) is the official voice and representative body for Ontario's front-line police personnel, and provides representation, resource and support for 53 police associations.
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SOURCE Police Association of Ontario
For further information: For comment, please call Stephen Reid, Executive Director at 416-435-4455