Halifax police chief to issue public apology to black community for street checks

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Halifax’s police chief is expected to issue a formal apology to Nova Scotia’s black community today over the practice of street checks while outlining “meaningful action” to rebuild trust.

Chief Daniel Kinsella announced his plan to the city’s board of police commissioners on Oct. 21, saying African Nova Scotians have endured generations of inequity.

The chief has said street checks deepened the divide between police and the community.

The Nova Scotia government announced it would permanently ban the practice last month after retired chief justice Michael MacDonald issued a formal opinion that it is illegal as practised in Nova Scotia.

MacDonald’s analysis concluded the practice of randomly stopping citizens, taking down information and then retaining it in files contravenes citizens’ constitutional and common law rights.

During the October board of police commissioners meeting, the chief said it would take time to improve the police force’s relationship with the black community — and street checks represented only one of the areas he’s working on.

When the 54-year-old chief took over the job in July, he said in his opening speech that he intended to build a “platform of trust” with the city’s minorities.

A study by University of Toronto criminologist Scot Wortley released this year found African Nova Scotians in the Halifax area were more than five times more likely to be stopped by police. The street checks were found to have had a “disproportionate and negative” impact on the black community.

An internet-based community survey conducted for the study indicated “overall confidence in law enforcement is relatively high” but noted that just 28 per cent of black respondents “trust the police.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2019.

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