A former Halifax Regional Police officer is speaking out after he says he was racially profiled by police during a routine traffic stop.
The incident happened just days before a Halifax woman says she was racially profiled and assaulted by police in a Walmart.
“It’s all too common,” said Maurice Carvery, who left the force six years ago due to what he calls systemic racism within the force.
“I’ve been saying this for quite some time about the biases and the racial biases and the culture and the attitudes, but they’ve constantly fell on deaf ears,” he said.
On Jan. 7, Carvery says he was driving his kids home from school when he was pulled over by an officer on Lacewood Drive. Carvery says he pulled into a nearby parking lot, where the officer informed him his licence plate had expired.
“I said I will address the situation pronto,” said Carvery.
He said he considered the interaction with the officer cordial, but then he said things escalated when more police cars showed up.
“I was just wondering, well, why are there so many police cars?” Carvery told Global News.
“From there, as time went on, I (noticed) a police vehicle coming, lights and sirens.”
When that officer approached, Carvery says he asked why the officer felt the need to use lights and sirens when there were already multiple units on the scene of a routine traffic stop.
“He said, ‘I don’t know, were you giving someone a hard time?'” Carvery said.
Carvery says there is only one reason the original cop had felt the need to call in back up.
“Because he’d seen a large Black male, that’s it,” said Carvery.
Carvery says he continued to press the officer for an answer as to what warranted this type of response, but the officer refused to answer him. When the officer walked away, Carvery says he got out of his vehicle to ask again, and that’s when he was threatened with arrest.
“That whole exchange was based out of biases,” said Carvery.
“Had I been a white male, I don’t think that would have happened.”
Carvery was never issued any ticket and officers ultimately dismissed him, but he says that’s because, as a former HRP officer, he was well aware of his rights and made sure the officers knew that.
“Had I not been aware of my rights … that whole situation would have escalated; I would have been undoubtedly arrested,” he said.
Shortly after the incident, he filed a complaint with the Board of Police Commissioners. Then, after hearing about what happened to Santina Rao at Walmart, he decided to go public to call out what he says is ongoing system racism.
“Basically street checks have been banned, an apology was provided in November, but they haven’t stopped. They’ve only morphed into something that looks like this.”
Halifax Regional Police say they cannot comment on specific cases but encourage anyone with concerns to report incidents through the complaints process.
In an emailed statement to Global News, a spokesperson said: “it has been communicated from the time of the moratorium that street checks are no longer to be conducted and the mechanisms to create them no longer exist.”