HALIFAX — Nova Scotia RCMP are promising to formally apologize for excessive street checks on Black citizens in the province.
The Mounties say they expect to issue the apology and a followup action plan by next year, after holding a series of14 meetings with the Black community that are expected to be completed by late fall.
In a news release, the RCMP say the meetings will address other "interactions (with police) that have had negative impacts on the community."
A provincially commissioned study released by criminologist Scot Wortley in March 2019 said the use of street checks by Halifax Regional Police and the RCMP targeted young Black men.
Street checks — now banned in Nova Scotia — are actions whereby police randomly stop people on the street to record their personal information.
The Halifax Regional Police chief offered a formal apology in November 2019 to the Black community for street checks and other injustices, but the RCMP didn't immediately offer an apology of their own.
Rather, the force had said it would follow the recommendations of a national study by the Civilian Complaints and Review Commission for the RCMP, which called in 2021 for a series of reforms to better inform citizens of their right to refuse to comply with street checks.
The RCMP says community consultation sessions are being held across the province, the first of which took place Monday night in Gibson Woods, a small community in the Annapolis Valley.
Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley, the commanding officer of the Nova Scotia RCMP, says in the news release, “It’s especially important we hear from those who will be affected by the apology; we need to get the apology right and pursue systemic change.”
The 14 consultations are being organized in African Nova Scotian communities, and will be attended by senior officers from the Nova Scotia division of the Mounties.
The RCMP release says a steering committee that includes Mounties and members of the Black community is being set up to provide "guidance and support" to the process.
"Nova Scotia is steeped in a remarkable Black history that spans many centuries; it’s through this lens that we’ve begun the process of collaboration with senior RCMP leadership to help build a meaningful response to the practice of street checks and the development of an action plan,” says Rev. Dr. Lennett Anderson, a steering committee member.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2023.
The Canadian Press