New Halifax police Chief Dan Kinsella sworn in, vows to build trust with community groups

Click to play video: 'Dan Kinsella sworn in as sixth Chief of Halifax Regional Police' Dan Kinsella sworn in as sixth Chief of Halifax Regional Police
WATCH: New Police Chief promises to build trust with community groups. Jesse Thomas has more – Jul 5, 2019

Halifax’s new chief of police was officially sworn in during an elaborate ceremony on Friday morning.

New police Chief Dan Kinsella was sworn in as the Halifax Regional Police’s sixth chief of police since Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford merged their respective services back in 1996.

READ MORE: Hamilton police’s Dan Kinsella chosen as new Halifax Regional Police chief

Kinsella comes into the leadership role after having spent the last 33 years working with the police service and climbing the ranks to deputy police chief before taking on this new opportunity in Halifax, which he calls “the chance of a lifetime.”

“I am humbled to lead this organization with its exceptional past and proud history of professionalism and dedication to service,” said Kinsella. “My family and I are thrilled and excited [about] meeting and interacting with all members of the community.”
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A countrywide search began last summer when former police chief Jean-Michel Blais announced his plans to retire in April. During the search, deputy police chief Robin McNeil acted as interim chief.

A list of 32 candidates was whittled down to eight, and acting police board commissioner Carole McDougall said Kinsella’s leadership and experience in all facets of policing, along with his ability to connect with people, made him the right choice.

“This commitment is consistent with the board’s philosophy that strong relationships are the foundation for a safe and healthy community,” said McDougall.

Kinsella steps into the new role during a time of mounting criticism over the force’s handling of street checks and amid a shaky relationship between police and the public as well as African Nova Scotians as the force has been embroiled in a controversy over police checks, or the controversial carding practice of stopping people when no specific offence is being investigated.

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READ MORE: N.S. justice minister suspends police street checks on pedestrians, vehicle passengers

An independent human rights report released in March recommended banning or strictly regulating street checks in Nova Scotia after it was found that black boys and men were nine times more likely to be stopped by police than the general population.

“One of my main focuses is going to be working on the public trust issue,” Kinsella said. “The community needs to have trust and confidence in their police chief and their service, and so we’re going to be working on that as a group and move forward.”

As for banning street checks or making a public apology for the use of street checks, Kinsella says he’s holding off on making that decision until he can understand his organization better and the community.

“I know that there has been some inequalities and some negative interactions,” said Kinsella. “And so I am going to work on that with the community and once I get that information and I am fully informed, we are going to work on that plan together to see the best way forward.”

Kinsella began his work as chief on July 2 and is familiar with the area as his wife, Lisa, and family are from Nova Scotia.

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READ MORE: As he prepares to retire, Jean-Michel Blais looks back at his time as Halifax police chief

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