Board of police commissioners backs moratorium on street checks
Nova Scotia's attorney general has yet to decide, but the commission responsible for policing in Halifax has voted for a moratorium on controversial police checks.
The police commission also called for an apology to the black community.
Both the RCMP and Halifax police said at the meeting on Monday that there's no quota on the controversial practice.
“It shows there's some miscommunication happening,” said Halifax Regional Coun. Lindell Smith, who also sits on the board of police commissioners. “Our inspector says there is no quota, but hearing from front-line officers that there is a quota.”
A report released last month found black people were six times more likely to be stopped by police in Halifax than white people.
That has many calling for an end to street checks.
“The important piece of this whole discussion is that we need to generate discussion, we need to do something differently -- I think we all accept that,” said Halifax Regional Police Supt. Don MacLean. “The report has highlighted issues that require some substantive change. How to get to that substantive change may be open for discussion.”
Monday afternoon, Smith put forward a motion to recommend that a moratorium be put on street checks, pending the development of a policy.
In addition, that motion asked that police apologize to the black community. The motion passed unanimously.
“A ban would have symbolically meant a lot to the community because we are recommending that it ends,” Smith said.
Natalie Borden is also on the board of police commissioners.
“We certainly can't argue with the evidence,” Borden said. “The evidence is very clear as to what's happening and what's happening is not appropriate. I think given the response by the community and what we know are the responsibilities of the police force. So what this will do is it will put the recommendation forward to the police commissioner, to the RCMP officer in charge, as well as to the minister, and certainly help guide our way forward.”
Some say the recommendations don't go far enough.
“We don't need a policy; we have a policy,” said Connor Smithers-Mapp of Equity Watch and Racism-Free Transit Halifax. “It's called the law. It's called the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which says that as a police officer, you are not empowered to just go up to someone, based on the colour of their skin and start asking for an ID and asking what they're doing there.”
There is no timeline in place for when the board may hear back on their recommendations.
Last Friday, Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey said he was hoping to have a final decision on how the province will move forward on the issue of street checks, sometime this week.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Natasha Pace.