Halifax’s police Chief Dan Kinsella believes creating eight new senior policing jobs could help trim the long list of internal complaint investigations that are beginning to hamper and affect the day-to-day policing.
“The demand for investigations far exceeds our ability to do those investigations,” said Chief Dan Kinsella, while addressing those present at Monday’s police board of commissioners meeting.
There’s a total of 106 police investigations underway, stemming from internal or external complaints made against the Halifax Regional Police, and the internal professional standards branch who investigate these complaints can’t keep up with the volume of complaints that are currently being investigated, as the work is piling up and now falling on the desks of other police branches.
It’s now hampering the police and creating a backlog of issues, as the lack of ability to close out the investigations is leading to more complaints, said Chief Kinsella as he made the case to the board of commissioners to create eight new senior positions within the HRP ranks.
“We just need to have the appropriate staff,” said Kinsella. “We are doing those investigations now but this would give us an opportunity to do them quicker and meet a number of obligations and bring better satisfaction to the customer.”
Kinsella wants to hire a staff sergeant to work in the criminal investigation division while adding another staff sergeant and two sergeants in the professional standards division to help manage and investigate the complaints made against police.
Another concern for Kinsella was the lack of senior staff working in the prisoner care facility, where he wants to add an additional four sergeants to ensure 24/7 support for citizen staff like special constables who work as booking officers.
This is in part a result of the recent court case that saw two special constables found guilty last month of criminal negligence causing death, of a highly intoxicated inmate who died while in prisoner care in 2016.
In November, a jury found that Const. Daniel Fraser and Const. Cheryl Gardner both guilty of criminal negligence causing death, when Corey Rogers who was arrested for public intoxication later died from asphyxiation after vomiting into a spit hood that was left in place.
“I think we have to be cognizant of everything that’s happened in the past to make sure we provide the appropriate services in the future,” said Kinsella.
It’s up to the police board of commissioners to approve the police budget and hiring request before Halifax Regional Council evaluates the business plan.
Police board of commissioners chair Natalie Borden believes the hiring strategy would be money well spent and better service to the community.
“People need to be assured that their complaints are taken seriously and that their complaints are dealt with in a timely matter,” said Borden. “And that the police are taking the appropriate actions and response to those.”
The eight new positions would increase the overall police budget by $700,000 and will be up for the board of commissioners to approve in January before the Halifax police budget goes to City Hall for final approval.