As of January 1, 2017, new regulations came into effect in Ontario that sought to clarify the procedure police officers must follow when they ask civilians to identify themselves. This practice, commonly referred to as street checks or carding, has been extremely controversial, disproportionately affecting people of colour and minorities. The new rules attempt to regulate street checks, prevent arbitrary stops, reduce bias in interactions with the police, and increase the accountability of law enforcement.
With funding from the City of Toronto and the Law Foundation of Ontario, OJEN developed Checks and Balances, a program to increase understanding of these new rules as well as individuals’ legal rights with police. The program is being offered to youth and frontline youth workers in Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas and high-risk communities.
Since the summer of 2018, OJEN has delivered 6 multi-session workshops for youth throughout Toronto. The program uses interactive scenario-based activities to engage youth participants and reinforce learning. The youth also have the opportunity to meet with members of the justice system. Over the course of the program, participants:
- become familiar with different kinds of police interactions,
- develop communications strategies they can use when interacting with police,
- learn about the mechanisms for police accountability, including police complaint procedures, and
- build awareness of resources that are available for legal help, if and when needed.
Starting this month, OJEN introduces the Checks and Balances program to frontline youth workers in four locations throughout Toronto. The full day public legal education (PLE) sessions will reach approximately 200 youth workers who support youth most vulnerable to involvement in serious violence and crime. By providing them with this training, OJEN aims to decrease the conflict between community members and police caused by misinformation regarding street checks.
For more information about the youth worker training sessions, contact email@example.com.