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

The iconic and well-loved live music venue Logan’s is permanently closing its doors due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Maps)
Fernwood pub Logan’s permanently closing its doors

Live music venue unable to weather COVID-19 storm

The Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. closed permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks closes despite petition signed by nearly 250 residents

Closure part of transition to more drive-thru locations, Starbucks spokesperson says

Shawn Magnus of Sidney Courier has partnered with Sidney Business Improvement Area Society for free commercial delivery for society members. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney business association partners with courier for free commercial delivery

Service started Oct. 26 and extends to a radius of 35 kilometres

Victoria police are searching for a suspect after a stabbing Monday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police searching for suspect in late-night stabbing

Victim taken to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Most Read