The Nova Scotia RCMP plans to issue a formal apology for its historic use of street checks, more than two years after the force said it had no intention of doing so, and more than four years after that a study found that the practice unfairly targeted young black men.
The RCMP said in a statement that it plans to apologize “to African Nova Scotians and all people of African descent for the harm caused by the historic use of street checks and for other interactions that had a negative impact on the community.
In order to “apologize,” the RCMP will hold 14 community consultation sessions across the province, the first of which took place Monday evening in Gibson Woods.
“I know this apology is long overdue. And I recognize that much work needs to be done to begin to rebuild the fractured relationship with the community,” Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley, commanding officer of the Nova Scotia RCMP, said in the release.
“That is why it is particularly important that we hear from those who will be affected by the apology; we must issue a proper apology and pursue systemic change.
Consultations are expected to conclude in November and the apology itself is expected to be delivered in 2024.
Street checks, which are now banned in Nova Scotia, are defined as police randomly stopping citizens on the street, recording personal information and storing it electronically – a practice sometimes called “carding” elsewhere in Canada.
A study into street checks commissioned by the province and released by criminologist Scot Wortley in March 2019 condemned the practice by Halifax Regional Police and local RCMP – which police the city’s suburbs – as targeting young people black men and creating a “disproportionate and negative” impact on street checks. African Nova Scotian communities.
These findings led to a public apology in front of several hundred people from Halifax Police Chief Dan Kinsella on November 29, 2019, for street checks and historical mistreatment of the Black community.
At the time, the RCMP were present at the apology, but did not participate. In September 2021, the force said it would not issue a formal apology to Halifax’s black communities for excessive street checks.
In fashion now
Tuesday’s release says the consultations were recommended by a steering committee and will be held in African Nova Scotian communities. These sessions will also inform an action plan.
“To ensure that the upcoming apology – and the actions that follow – are meaningful, I have created a steering committee to provide guidance and support,” Daley said. “The expertise and leadership of the members will help us reconcile with the Black community, in hopes of rebuilding trust.
The committee is made up of the following RCMP members and community leaders: Rev. Dr. Lennett Anderson, Elizabeth Cooke-Sumbu, Andrea Davis, Louise Delisle, Vanessa Fells, Alexander Fraser, Rose Fraser, Craig Gibson, Russell Grosse, Deacon Catherine Hartling. and DeRico Symonds.
In a statement, Anderson, one of the committee members, noted that Nova Scotia is “steeped in a remarkable black history that spans centuries.”
“It is with this in mind that we have begun the process of working with senior RCMP leaders to help develop a meaningful response to the practice of street checks and develop an action plan,” Anderson said.
“As a community, we understand the controversies surrounding this issue and play a dual role in this work. »
The RCMP said the action plan will be drafted after the conclusion of community consultations.
— with files from The Canadian Press
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