On July 8, the SPVM released its new policy on street checks, months after a report found evidence of systemic racism in the Montreal police department. Despite calls from the city council and a number of community groups, the policy falls short of imposing a permanent ban on the practice. Instead, it's introducing a new set of rules intended to end racial profiling and ensure "arrests based on observable facts."
"Today, the SPVM becomes the first police force in Quebec to adopt such a policy," said the director of the SPVM, Sylvain Caron in a statement.
A street check is a practice where police stop a person in public, question them, and record their personal information.
Under the new policy, officers will have to follow a set of rules before they stop people in the street.
Policy checks must be done "based on observable facts and without discriminatory grounds," reads the statement.
An individual cannot be stopped based on their "ethnocultural identity, religion, gender, identity, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status," it continues.
In the statement, the SPVM acknowledges the stark and persistent discrimination experienced by minorities at the hands of the police and promises change.
"I assure you that this is not an end in itself," stated Caron.
Le #SPVM présente sa Politique sur les interpellations policières. Elle vient établir qu’une interpellation doit êt… https://t.co/FL8Pk5PEJj— Police Montréal (@Police Montréal) 1594218145.0
"There is still work to be done, I am well aware of that. This policy will continue to evolve over time. We will still be flexible and open."
The new policy was developed after 160 external consultations with members of a number of community groups. It will come into effect in the fall.
The October 2019 report from the Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la diversité et la démocratie revealed issues of systemic racism within the Montreal police department.
The report contends that racial profiling is endemic to the Montreal police department and outlines complaints made for years by minority groups who have said they were unfairly singled out by officers.
It also showed that Black people and Indigenous people in the city are five times more likely to be stopped by officers than others.
Nova Scotia banned street checks last year after the practice was deemed illegal.