The Hamilton Police Services Board has endorsed a decision by Hamilton Police not to engage in random checks and vehicle stops to enforce COVID lockdown restrictions. In an unprecedented demonstration of concern, virtually every municipal police force in Ontario has issued statements saying they will not enforce the government lockdown rules by conducting random stops. The refusals came less than 24 hours after the government had issued the new lockdown restrictions late Friday afternoon. The spontaneous rebuff by police services is a serious embarrassment for the Ford Government who were already attracting criticism from Ontario Mayors for introducing sweeping restrictions without warning. Several police services specifically cited the effect such random checks would have on public perceptions of police, particularly among racialized communities.
The statement from the Hamilton Police Services Board follows:
Like many police services across the province, the Hamilton Police Services Board has concerns about the decision to expand police enforcement of the emergency Stay-at-Home order. We recognize that COVID-19 continues to have the greatest impact on marginalized communities and individuals classified as essential workers.
Increasing police enforcement is not the answer.
Acting Chief Ryan Diodati has assured the Hamilton Police Service Board that Hamilton Police members will continue to provide the highest quality policing to our residents. The Acting Chief has committed that Hamilton Police will not be conducting random vehicle or individual stops.
Police play a vital part in keeping our communities safe, but we need to do our part by following the advice of our public health experts.
We will continue to provide more information as soon as the new legislation becomes available.