‘No comment’: Halifax police commissioners remain quiet after update on street checks

Scot Wortley speaks to media at Halifax City Hall on Dec. 13, 2018. Alexander Quon/Global News

Halifax’s Board of Police Commissioners are remaining tight-lipped about what information they received during a more than two-hour update about an upcoming street-check report provided to them on Thursday.

The meeting was held in camera — or behind closed doors — as Scot Wortley provided an update on his report.

Wortley was the man hired by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in 2017 to investigate the crime-fighting potential of police street checks and weigh it against the possible negative impact on racialized communities.

READ MORE: Halifax Police Commissioners to receive private update on street check report

Street checks, also known as carding, refer to the police technique of stopping people when no specific offence is being investigated, questioning them and recording their information.

The board voted unanimously on Thursday to hold the update in camera and commissioners were not forthcoming on what they had heard.

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“It was a good conversation as to where [Wortley] is and where he’s going,” said Steve Craig, the board’s chair and councillor for Lower Sackville.

Craig refused to comment on the status of the report or whether the board had been briefed on it while in camera.

Wortley, a University of Toronto criminology professor and researcher on race and crime, was brought in after data showed black men were three times more likely than whites to be subjected to the controversial practice.

On Thursday Wortley said that he had told the board about “preliminary findings and the direction the report is going.”

Wortley has reportedly met with multiple members of the HRP from all levels of policing — including crime analysts, detectives in major crimes, sergeants, patrol officers and Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean Michel Blais.

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Wortley has also met with RCMP detachments in Sackville, Tantallon, North Preston and Cole Harbour and held 11 community meetings in the HRM that sought input from the general public.

The criminology professor says that he needs a few more pieces of data to complete the report and that he will be working through the holidays to wrap it up.

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