African Nova Scotians call for pause on street checks until research completed
Members of the African Nova Scotian community say the use of street checks should be paused until research on the practice is finalized.
African Nova Scotian Taylor MacLean says he’s lost count of the amount of times he’s been street checked by police.
“If you look how I look like, you're going to get stopped,” says MacLean. “People don't want to believe that but that [expletive] happens all the time.”
But Halifax Regional Police say street checks can be valuable.
"A street check is entered in our system when an officer observes and/or interacts with a person/vehicle at a location, time, and/or under other circumstances that may suggest possible suspicious activity and/or may be of significance to investigations," Halifax Regional Police told CTV News in a statement.
Street checks have been under fire since data showed that African Nova Scotians were three times more likely to be stopped by police in Halifax than white people. Halifax police say they did 5,631 street checks in 2015, 5,401 in 2016 and 4,853 last year.
University of Toronto criminologist Scot Wortley has been looking into street checks since September.
“Let’s just stop doing it for a bit while we're doing the analysis,” says Sylvia Parris, member of the Board of Police Commissioners. “Put it on pause, because then I hope it still implies that we haven't made a decision about the value of it, but we do know we don’t have a clear understanding about the value of it.”
Journalist and activist Desmond Cole doesn't understand why the issue needs to be studied at all.
“We would like to be free and safe as black people to walk down our streets. The fact that the police are doing that less to us is not an answer. It's not acceptable,” Cole says.
Wortley's public consultations continue Wednesday night in Lucasville, followed by one in Beechville on Thursday.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.