Kinsella says Halifax police have no plans to drop charges in Walmart arrest
HALIFAX -- Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella has spoken publicly for the first time since allegations of assault and racial profiling from a woman arrested at a Halifax Walmart last week.
Kinsella spoke after the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners meeting Monday afternoon, saying, at this point, police are in what amounts to a holding pattern.
The investigation into allegations of assault made by Santina Rao -- while she was shopping with her children -- is under scrutiny from the province's Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT).
SIRT has to decide if the case warrants an investigation.
Until then, Kinsella says the officers involved with the arrest remain on the job.
There were at least 30 people at the meeting Monday, where the Board of Police Commissioners heard from several speakers -- among them activist and university professor El Jones.
She had been scheduled to appear before the incident -- when it was still a budget consultation – but, Monday, she said she couldn't in good conscience do that, and suggested freezing the police budget until there is further commitment to eliminating racial profiling.
"This indicates that police have not changed their practices, despite the so-called ban on racial profiling," Jones said. "We see that they are actually still taking place. What happened to Santina Rao is, in fact, a street check. It may not be on the road, but it is a request for information."
Kinsella was firm around the issue of street checks. He says they have stopped and he said he will review the circumstances surrounding Rao's arrest, but he won't commit to anything further, such as officer retraining, for example, until he hears from SIRT.
"The last thing that we want to happen is what happened last week," Kinsella said. "We have to see what the precipitating events and factors that led up to that. If the review and investigation and subsequent recommendations show that further training is required, we'll certainly do that."
Kinsella says that there are no current plans to revoke the charges against Rao.
She was arrested at the Walmart and charged with disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, and assaulting a peace officer.
Kinsella told media that the case is now with the courts -- so the charges could be dropped if the Crown decides not to prosecute.