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Report on Halifax police street checks to be made public Wednesday

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

A long-awaited report on Halifax Regional Police’s controversial practice of street checks — otherwise known as carding — will be released on Wednesday, the government of Nova Scotia announced on Thursday.

Scot Wortley, a University of Toronto criminology professor and researcher on race and crime, will brief media on Wednesday. The province says stakeholders, including members of the community and police, will be on hand to offer responses to the report.

The event is by invitation only.

READ MORE: Halifax officials, African Nova Scotians join church service with street check report on the horizon

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

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His hiring came after data released by the Halifax Regional Police showed black men were three times more likely than white men to be subjected to the controversial practice of street checks.

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

Halifax police say street checks are used to record suspicious activity. Although police stop and question people, the checks can also be “passive” with information recorded based on observations rather than interactions.

Advocates of police street checks say they help law enforcement gather intelligence and improve public safety, while opponents say they target black people and violate human rights.

WATCH: Global News coverage of street checks and carding

The latest analysis of data, conducted by CBC in January 2019, found that “black people were four times more likely to be street checked than white people in 2017 and 2018.”

As part of his independent review, Wortley 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.

Wortley has also met with RCMP detachments in Sackville, Tantallon, North Preston and Cole Harbour.

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He also held 11 community meetings in the HRM and hosted an online survey that sought input from the general public.

READ MORE: Halifax police commissioners remain quiet after update on street checks

The review will be released just as Blais is set to retire.

Blais, who has served since Oct. 11, 2012, will end his term on April 12, 2019. Deputy chief Robin McNeil will then take over as acting chief until a new permanent chief is selected.

Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais is seen in his office in Halifax on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.
Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais is seen in his office in Halifax on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

The search for one is well underway and Halifax’s Board of Police Commissioners has said they are in the process of finalizing a recommendation, with one coming as soon as Monday.

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Once the recommendation is approved by the board it will go before council, who will hold a vote to approve the candidate.

A special meeting of Halifax’s Police Board of Commissioners is set for Monday, two days ahead of the street check report being made public.

With files from The Canadian Press