Halifax police officer involved in controversial video remains on administrative duties as investigation continues
HALIFAX -- The Halifax Regional Police officer at the centre of a controversial video remains on administrative duties while an internal investigation continues.
Police say they were called to a weapons complaint on Wentworth Drive in Halifax shortly after 6 p.m. on March 26.
Over the weekend, a video was posted to social media that appears to show the initial officer who responded to the incident pointing his service weapon at a man that advocates say is Black, while threatening to shoot.
"While a lot of people don't appreciate why we might use foul language in a particular circumstance, there is a good reason and it was consistent with his training,"said Sgt. Dean Stienburg, the president of the Halifax Regional Police Association.
Stienburg says he fully supports the officer's actions and that people are missing how well the lone officer performed in a tense situation.
"On a routine traffic stop where there's no threat, there's no anything, it absolutely would be inappropriate to talk to a member of the public that way but that was not the circumstance that day in any way, shape or form," said Stienburg.
Halifax social worker Robert Wright says he can't judge whether an officer should draw their gun but says we should expect better from trained police officers, even in tense situations.
"I don't think they followed any type of proper protocol in the language they were trying to use to resolve the matter,"said Wright. "In fact, the language is dehumanizing, it is threatening, and the optics of that language feeds into the lack of confidence that Black people have with police."
Wright says we shouldn't be focusing on this one officer and this one incident but on the bigger issues of police training and the kinds of relationships police leadership has been developing with the Black community.
"This officer's behaviors, if inappropriate, should not rest solely on their shoulders. What is the training officers have for these scenarios? What is the model by which we deploy officers to these scenarios? What supports and resources do they have?"asked Wright.
The director of the province's Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), Felix Cacchione, wasn't available for an interview Wednesday. In an email, he confirmed SIRT did receive a request from the group Game Changers 902 asking them to investigate the incident, but says the use of inappropriate language does not meet SIRT’s mandate.
Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella was unavailable for an interview on Wednesday.