News / Halifax

Halifax street check report won't be done till next fall

Also at the police board meeting on Monday, Chief Jean-Michel Blais recommended against body-worn camera for Halifax police officers.

Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais speaks at the Board of Police Commissioners meeting at Halifax City Halifax earlier this year.

Jeff Harper/Metro / Halifax Staff

Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais speaks at the Board of Police Commissioners meeting at Halifax City Halifax earlier this year.

A Nova Scotia Humans Rights Commission report on street checks in Halifax Regional Municipality won’t be complete until next fall.

University of Toronto criminologist Dr. Scot Wortley, who’s examining the police street check data and writing the report, updated the municipality’s board of police commissioners in a letter presented at its meeting on Monday.

Halifax Regional Police define street checks, often referred to as carding, as “when an officer either observes somebody or something going on or has an interaction or conversation with someone” and then records it in a form. Data released early this year shows Black people in Halifax are three times more likely than white people to be street checked.

In his letter, Wortley updated the board on his recent trip to Halifax, when he hosted four meetings with the Black community on street checks.

“During these meetings we heard about personal encounters with the police and how street checks have negatively impacted many members of the Black community,” he wrote.

In early 2018, Wortley plans to launch an online survey to measure citizens’ attitudes toward police.

Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais told the board Wortley’s full report won’t be done until fall 2018.

After the meeting, Blais told reporters that won’t stop the board from creating new policies around street checks in the meantime, but he doesn’t expect to see policy changes this fall, as he said before.

“Whether or not we’re going to be coming out as per indicated earlier on this year with a policy change coming this fall, I don’t expect so,” he said. “We want to be able to look at all of the facts and make those changes as required.”

Blais repeated his stance that street checks shouldn’t be suspended or ended in the meantime.

Metro reported on Monday that the provincial NDP has written to Nova Scotia’s attorney general to ask for a moratorium on street checks.

Chief recommends against body cameras for cops

Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais will make a presentation at the next meeting of the municipality’s board of police commissioners on why he’s recommending against outfitting the force with body-worn cameras.

In a report tabled at Monday’s board meeting, police said it would cost $1.4 million annually to run a pilot project testing the cameras on 50 officers.

“Cost is one factor,” Blais told reporters after the meeting. “The other factor is, is this really something that is beneficial?”

Blais suggested the money could be better spent elsewhere.

He’ll give the presentation on Dec. 11.

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