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'I want to see the RCMP out of Halifax,' says councillor following refusal of street checks apology

Halifax West Armdale's Shawn Cleary, says he's 'saddened and quite disappointed' that an apology to HRM's Black community won't be coming from the Mounties
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Councillor Shawn Cleary (halifax.ca)

One councillor would like to see all of Halifax Regional Municipality policed by Halifax Regional Police following the RCMP's refusal to formally apologize for its use of street checks. 

Halifax West Armdale's Shawn Cleary, says he's "saddened and quite disappointed" that an apology to HRM's Black community won't be coming from the Mounties.

"Now more than ever I want to see the RCMP out of Halifax," Cleary told NEWS 95.7's The Todd Veinotte Show Wednesday morning.

In an email to the Canadian Press sent Aug. 27, RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Marshall said the agency "acknowledges the disproportionate harm that street checks have caused to marginalized communities, particularly African Nova Scotians."

"However, we are also part of the broader RCMP, and RCMP national policy still supports the use of street checks as a policing tool," he added.

Street checks are now banned in Nova Scotia and Marshall said Mounties in our province will continue to adhere to that policy.

"We are focused on rebuilding our relationship and trust with marginalized Nova Scotians, which goes beyond ending the practice of street checks."

However, Cleary points to a recent incident where Halifax police superintendent Dean Simmonds and his wife Angela Simmonds, who is now the MLA for Preston, allege they were pulled over at gunpoint by RCMP while heading to the grocery store. A formal complaint has been filed.

"They regularly over police Indigenous and Black Nova Scotians," Cleary said of the RCMP.

An independent report by criminologist Scot Wortley in March 2019 found that Black people in the Halifax area were six times more likely to be street checked by police than white people, creating a "disproportionate and negative" impact on African Nova Scotian communities.

Later that year, Halifax Regional Police formally apologized for the practice.

"Far too many times we have failed you," said police Chief Dan Kinsella in November of 2019. "I acknowledge the community's concerns that the actions of police have had a negative and deep impact on generations of the African Nova Scotian community and disproportionately on young Black men."

"I am sorry for our actions that caused you pain. I am sorry for all the times that you were mistreated, victimized and re-victimized," Kinsella added.

A review of police services in HRM is currently underway, and Cleary said he was already leaning toward supporting having HRP take over the whole municipality "for a variety of reasons."

"Duplications and certainly the cost savings that could come to us by only having one force," he explained. "The RCMP is getting more expensive. They just had a big union contract increase, so that's going to hit us in the budget as well, but this was the proverbial straw the broke the camel's back."

Cleary said if that review does not recommend one police force for the region, "then an explicit motion at council would be appropriate."

With files from the Canadian Press



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Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the community editor for HalifaxToday.ca.
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