featured Racism

Board of Police Commissioners briefing on carding should not be secret

Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – As I write this the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners is receiving a preview of a report and recommendations about police checks and race.

The meeting is secret, which is why neither I nor any real reporters are in the room to report on it.

It’s sort of fitting, in a way. Statistics that showed anti-Black bias among police conducting street checks that lead to the investigation were kept secret by Halifax police as well. It took a Freedom of Information request by the CBC to bring those numbers to light. Secrecy in the beginning, and secrecy at the end.

The sole agenda item is an update on the Expert Report on Street Checks. Listed as a “legal matter”, it will be in camera (in private), “in accordance with Section 51 of the Nova Scotia Police Act”, as the agenda states.

This secrecy is at the request of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (NSHRC).

Dr. Wortley’s report is not finished. These consultations are part of the process. The final report will be presented early in the new year,” writes Jeff Overmars, spokesperson for the NSHRC, in an email to the NS Advocate..

Zane Woodford, City Hall reporter for the Star Halifax, points out that the notion of a legal matter is not referenced in the Police Act, nor is it mentioned in the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter.

The NSHRC in its email calls it consultations. Consultations aren’t legal matters.

Anyway, apart from legalities, keeping reporters and the public out is just plain dumb.

Dr. Wortley has provided updates and progress reports to the Police Commissioners before, but always in public.

Now, just when things get interesting, and politically sensitive for that matter, the Board is offering directly affected parties such as Halifax Police Chief J.M. Blais an opportunity to shape the conclusions and recommendations while away from public scrutiny. 

Or maybe not. Maybe Dr. Wortley will simply report his conclusions, and that’s it.

The problem is that now we will never know.

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One Comment

  1. Unacceptable. How could anyone, possibly, be expected to have confidence in this exercise and its findings?

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