Halifax police stonewalls FOIPOP request about pros and cons of $500,000 armed vehicle

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Halifax Regional Police Department wants to buy what it calls an armed rescue vehicle, and City Council approved the requisite $500,000 those things cost.

See also: Halifax Police want their armoured truck, and they’re damn well going to buy it

Now the Nova Scotia Advocate has been informed that a a Freedom of Information request it submitted to the HRPD to find out more about its internal reasoning for acquiring that tank-like vehicle was denied in its entirety.

“Disclosure will likely harm the financial or economic interests of the municipality, another municipality, or the Government of the Province, or the ability of the government of the Province to manage the economy and, (…) may refuse to disclose the following information about negotiations carried on by or for the municipality, ” writes HRPD Inspector and FOIPOP coordinator Donald Moser.

That’s a strange reason.

The FOIPOP request was for “any documents, emails, and other relevant records pertaining to the business case and risk assessments for the acquisition of the armoured rescue vehicle.”

A risk assessment asks what could possibly go wrong when that vehicle is deployed, and how can we mitigate those risks. The reference to a business case here means any more or less formal document which justifies the investment of money and other resources to buy a rescue tank.  

Neither is even remotely likely to harm the financial or economic interest of the city, or its negotiations. If there are dollar figures the public shouldn’t see they can be redacted, but the ask is for way more than that.

You can appeal this decision to the Freedom of Information Review Office, the response letter from HRPD helpfully suggests.

I will do that. I have submitted appeals a handful of times before. The wonderful people at the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner who deal with these complaints, are often able to resolve issues informally.

However, this will take time. As we were reminded yesterday when Catherine Tully, the province’s information and privacy commissioner published her annual report, her office is swamped with appeals and staff can’t keep up.

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