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Crime

Halifax police commissioners to consider asking for plans to address street checks

Scot Wortley listens to a question at a community meeting on street checks on May 21, 2019. .
Scot Wortley listens to a question at a community meeting on street checks on May 21, 2019. . Alexander Quon/Global News

Street checks, the topic that has dominated the agenda of Halifax’s Board of Police Commissioners during the past year, is set to be revisited at the advisory body’s monthly meeting on Monday.

Commissioners will receive updates on their requests for a data retention policy regarding police street checks in Halifax, as well the implementation of recommendations found in a report prepared by a University of Toronto professor of criminology Scot Wortley.

The 180-page Wortley Report was published in March and analyzed data from both the Halifax Regional Police and the RCMP, which patrols certain parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality, between 2006 and 2017.

The damning report found that black people were disproportionately questioned by police.

READ MORE: Will banning street checks be enough? Concerns heard as Halifax community meetings get underway (May 21, 2019)

For example, although African Nova Scotians make up only 3.6 per cent of the population, they were subjected to 19.2 per cent of street checks — making them five times more likely to be stopped by police.

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The end result is a policy that Wortley found to have had a “disproportionate and negative” impact on the African Nova Scotia community.

Although Nova Scotia’s justice minister has formally instituted a moratorium on street checks, Halifax Regional Police have previously declined to apologize for the practice.

The force has committed to purging some — but not all — of the 14 years’ worth of street checks and metadata from their system in December 2020, but questions remain over the future of the practice.

A new motion by Natalie Borden, the board’s first black chair, attempts to resolve that issue.

Borden is asking for the board of police commissioners to request that Police Chief Dan Kinsella prepare a plan to address the recommendations in the Wortley Report that address data collection on police stops.

READ MORE: First person of colour elected as new chair of the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners (July 18, 2019)

The recommendations include establishing a permanent data collection system to “record information on all stops of civilians,” conducting periodic surveys on police officers to measure the impact of data collection on officer morale, releasing annual or biannual reports on police data collection and evaluating the effectiveness of their anti-bias and community-building initiatives.

Borden’s motion asks that the plan identify which organizations or resources are responsible or should be involved in implementing the recommendations, what specific actions are to be taken, an estimated timeline on when they will be implemented and a method for tracking the progress so it can be reported back to the board.

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The board is set to debate the motion at 12:30 p.m., on Monday at Halifax City Hall.

WATCH: (May 13, 2019) There will be no apologies from Halifax police, RCMP over street checks

There will be no apologies from Halifax police, RCMP over street checks
There will be no apologies from Halifax police, RCMP over street checks