Halifax police, RCMP, say they won't issue formal apology over street checks

Police in Halifax have told the city's civilian oversight body that they won't be issuing a formal apology to the African Nova Scotian community over street checks.

At its last meeting on April 15, the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners asked Halifax Police and the RCMP to suspend street checks and prepare a joint statement formally apologizing for the policy.

The request followed the release of a report by University of Toronto criminology professor Scot Wortley, who found African Nova Scotians in the Halifax area were more than five times more likely to be stopped by police. The street checks were found to have had a "disproportionate and negative" impact on the black community.

But in letters posted on the municipality's website ahead of a board meeting today, both forces say they won't be taking the formal step.

RCMP Insp. Robert Doyle says while he appreciates the sentiments in the board's request, an apology "would appear disingenuous at this time" and would "disrupt efforts to create lasting change."

Acting Halifax police chief Robin McNeil writes that issues related to organizational apologies are "very complex and sensitive." He adds the street check data presents only a partial portrait of the situation, because traffic stops, police complaints and the treatment of people during these interactions were not included.