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Former cop says more than apology to black community needed from police

Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella, right, chats with community members after he addressed the audience as the force deals with historic complaints of racial profiling in Halifax on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. Kinsella apologized for years of police street checks that disproportionately targeted black people.
Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella, right, chats with community members after he addressed the audience as the force deals with historic complaints of racial profiling in Halifax on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. Kinsella apologized for years of police street checks that disproportionately targeted black people. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

A veteran black police officer – who has written about racism within policing in Canada – says it will take more than an apology from Halifax’s police chief to improve relations with Nova Scotia’s black community.

Calvin Lawrence says the apology is a good start, but it will take a change in attitude by individual police officers on the street, and the advancement of more black officers in the ranks before there’s real change.

READ MORE: After street checks apology, African Nova Scotians present Canada with a challenge, and opportunity

Lawrence, a former police officer in Halifax and later the RCMP, has written the book “Black Cop” about his 36-year career in policing and racism he experienced.

On Friday, Halifax Police Chief Daniel Kinsella issued a formal apology to Nova Scotia’s black community over the practice of street checks, describing it as a first step to counter a series of historic wrongs.

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READ MORE: Halifax police apologize to black community for street checks

The apology comes in the wake of findings earlier this year that the police practice of randomly stopping people, collecting personal information and storing it was disproportionately targeting the black community – particularly young black men.

Lawrence says he wants to know why it took so long for the force to acknowledge the problem.