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Council decides against police defunding subcommittee

Councillors say a committee will take too long to create

2 min read
The Halifax regional police headquarters sign.
caption Halifax regional police are the subject of multiple transformation reports.
Dylan Taylor

Halifax regional council won’t use a committee to address the recommendations outlined
in the January 2022 defunding the police report.

Instead, council voted unanimously to initiate a six-month review period on Tuesday. After this period, chief administrative officer (CAO) Cathie O’Toole will report back on whether the
recommendations can be addressed, and by which governing body.

This decision comes after the release of other police reform reports with similar
recommendations. During the review period, the CAO will find overlaps and conflicts between the reports to ensure recommendations are implemented efficiently.

Coun. Becky Kent, who chairs the board of police commissioners, told council much of the work that a committee would accomplish is already being accomplished by the municipality’s public safety office.

The motion was taken from a report written by policy analyst John Bates. Bates told council the bureaucracy associated with forming a committee and selecting its members would slow the process of addressing recommendations.

Council wants to keep work in the public eye

Coun. Lindell Smith supported the motion, but said he was concerned about keeping the public in the loop without a committee dedicated to addressing the report’s recommendations.

“It’s really going to be on us moving forward that we don’t forget that the public has to be part of it at all times,” he said in an interview during a break in the meeting. “When it comes to defund, my goal is that any time we have a discussion, that we make it as public facing as
possible, and as accountable as possible.”

Defunding the Police: Defining the Way Forward for HRM was a report prepared for the board of police commissioners by El Jones and a subcommittee. The report outlines 36 suggestions to restructure policing in the HRM. Many of these suggestions revolve around “detasking”: the process of transferring responsibilities from the HRP to other municipal entities.

The term “defund” remains controversial. Councillors Tony Mancini and Trish Purdy both
attempted to initiate a name change for the defund report during the meeting.

Mancini told council he approves of the report, but believes the name is “inappropriate to the work that needs to be done here.”

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Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor makes music, journalism and music journalism in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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