Budget Committee, Feb. 17, 2021
Meeting recap (the important stuff):
The Budget Committee approved HRM’s two police force budgets today at committee.
Before the meeting started there was a presentation by two members of the East Coast Prison Justice Society, co-chair Harry Critchley and board member Tari Ajadi. They pointed out that HRM’s funding priorities don’t really match council’s stated priorities. In their extensively researched written submission to the committee, they pointed out the city spends almost as much on a police horse ($271,600) and polygraph testing ($260,300) as they do on the Housing First program ($561,925).
The only dissenting vote on the main budget was Councillor Shawn Cleary who voted against the RCMP’s budget. There was a lot of discussion about the lack of oversight and control the city has over one of its two police forces, the RCMP. For Cleary, he said the disappointing presentation and answers to councillors’ questions lead to his no vote.
Both police forces admitted to the committee that they use polygraph testing as part of their interview and interrogation processes. Kinsella said it was an effective tool and left it at that, whereas Gray said that it wasn’t so much the polygraph that was effective but interrogators’ skill in using it as a tool. Which sounds a lot like they heap on stress and anxiety until a person panics so much they give a confession since the results of a polygraph test have been barred as evidence since 1987 in Canada. Seems relevant to point out at this juncture that the United Nations defines torture as: For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
The Budget Committee also approved the Halifax Regional Police’s request for a one year term position to develop policy for body cameras. They approved the Journey to Change training as well, which is an integral part of implementing the Wortley report, according to Kinsella. The HRP’s request for a disposition clerk to help clear the backlog of court data that has yet to be entered into police data was also approved.
The committee voted against the RCMP’s request to hire a new person to deal primarily with civilian complaints. That vote failed by only one vote with Cuttell, Russell, Outhit, Deagle-Gammon, Hendsbee, Kent, and Purdy voting for the motion. Austin, Mancini, Mason, Smith, Cleary, Morse, Stoddard, and Savage voted against the motion. And Lovelace and Blackburn were absent for the vote.
The committee didn’t put forward a motion about the HRP’s request for a technical training position, unlike the rest of the stuff that made it out of this meeting to the ‘parking lot’ to be voted on later, it’s gone forever.
Unless of course, a councillor makes a motion to add it to the ‘parking lot’ when the meeting continues on Friday, where the Halifax Public Libraries will be presenting their budget.
Who said what (paraphrased):
Russell: Welcome to this meeting, we’re talking about the police and library budgets. But first a presentation from Harry Critchley the co-chair of the East Coast Prison Justice Society.
Critchley: Last year we conducted a survey of all the candidates in the last municipal election, everyone here and the mayor did our survey. There’s support for better accountability in the HRP and full support for implementing the Wortley report, and some support for Councillor Blackburn’s suggestion to tie police funding to Wortley report implementation. Kinsella couldn’t say how much they’ve implemented so far, and there’s no good way to find out (since the police can just not tell the truth to their oversight body). The HRP is spending a lot of money on polygraph testing (which doesn’t work, can’t be used in court, and is banned in Ontario) and two horses (which are ceremonial). In 2008 there were concerns about how the HRP used the polygraphs, which they did for employment screening, reportedly asking people if they’d thought about killing themselves, or thought about having sex with animals. Police said they’d investigate, and never reported their findings if they did. It’s $500,000 for horses and polygraph testing, which is more than all the money budgeted for the Housing First program. There are a hundred more people homeless today than in 2019. The HRP also chronically underfunds victims’ services, they get ~$271,000. It should also be separate from the police, and funded through the chief of the HRP. Due to COVID, the victims’ services budget was cut by $50,000, even though domestic abuse is up, also due to COVID.
Russell: Questions? Up next Tari Ajadi, doctoral candidate at Dalhousie and a board member of East Coast Prison Justice Society.
Ajadi: I want to focus on one aspect of the police budget, as I understand you approve or reject budget overs. The term position to figure out body cams should be rejected. The police should not be getting extra money when there are two government bodies within the HRM looking to defund the police, it would undermine public confidence in the process. The HRP can’t be trusted to provide unbiased research into the topic. We know what the conclusions will be. They have a track record of misleading their oversight body. Their report on body cams didn’t include the negatives of body cams (as we covered on Jan. 18, this was because the Board of Police Commissioners’ motion asked for ONLY the positives of body cams). Actual consultations with experts on body-worn cams suggest there’s no benefit, and puts our data at risk since a private company is amassing a monopoly on body cams.
Russell: Any questions? Okay on to the police budget.
Smith: *Puts the motion on the floor and as the chair of the BOPC starts the presentation on the budget. This is just an introduction to how the HRP and RCMP work together in the HRM* On to Chief Kinsella.
Kinsella: Crime severity index (a.k.a. how serious crimes are, kind of, it more accurately reflects convictions) is going down in Halifax. It’s low and going down. Violent crime is also going down. We received 125,931 911 calls and 4,244 criminal charges were laid HRP is committed to becoming more diverse, some of the Wortley recommendations are done over time, there’s a maintenance component to them. It’s important we meet them in spirit, but make sure they’re practical. HRP’s going to do a community survey to gather information on public safety matters. We have a plan to elevate our enforcement and education. On to Craig Horton to walk through the financials.
Horton: Here’s our budget overview:
Horton: Here’s our staff count:
Horton: And here are the changes to our budget this year:
Horton: Here’s what we’re asking for
Horton: The Journey to Change training is for the Wortley report (Kinsella has previously said they can’t do it without the extra money).
Kinsella: We need the money. The disposition clerk will address the backlog of court dispositions which has been building for a number of years. We need a full time officer to do it. The multi-media training technician is important to make sure we do the training required. The body-worn camera position is to develop policy for body-worn cameras, as requested by the Board of Police Commissioners. The Journey to Change training is imperative to building trust with the African Nova Scotian community. This training was created by direct engagement with the African Nova Scotian community.
Russell: RCMP presentation?
Mancini: Can we do the questions for the HRP before moving on to the RCMP? I think it’ll be easier, less confusing.
Cleary: I’m interested in the recommendations to the Wortley report that aren’t being done yet, but first. Body cam co-ordinator, has there been a policy developed yet? (No)
Kinsella: No, we have a framework, and our policy is in development. We need it before we get cameras as per BOPC instructions.
Cleary: Given how controversial and limited they can be, it would be great to have a policy in place first. Recommendation set three, in the Wortley report. Data collection for police stops, but your officers still stop people for a variety of reasons, and he said it’s important to collect racial data. I think it’s one of the most important recommendations, have you done anything about that yet?
Kinsella: It’s a multi-agency response under the direction of the DOJ. I believe everyone who’s stopped should be treated the same way. The DOJ is going through the process. We need to define what a police stop is. A traffic stop is clearly a stop, but what if officers are just talking to someone? And the question is what does the data collection look like on the back end? Infrastructure and funding, this won’t be a quick turnaround. The DOJ is going down the road. I’d put something in the budget if I had costing on that, it’s important work that needs to be thoughtful. So yes, we’re working on it. (They haven’t started collecting racial information in police stops it sounds like?)
Mancini: One of the presenters said there was no information about the status of the Wortley report implementation and I made a motion before I left the Board of Police Commissioners to make sure it was happening, is it not happening?
Kinsella: The updated tracker on the BOPC website is updated by the BOPC. There are a number of stakeholders in a number of recommendations, and we’ve been working on implementing these recommendations. Recommendation 4.2, we’ve done Journey to Change, and we have something called legitimate and bias free policing. We’ve done two Journey to Change courses, but it’d be ongoing, so we need money to do that.
Mancini: It makes sense, but people want to know where we are with the Wortley report. COVID, what’s the impact on policing and public safety?
Kinsella: Some of the impacts are self-evident. We’ve had to educate people on the pandemic, and then issuing tickets for non-compliance. Now we’re just doing enforcement on public health stuff. My job is to ensure we’re providing front line services (very weird to hear military terminology about where you fight the enemy in this context).
Outhit: Are community response and school officers back? Quick reaction officers? There are two reports coming down the pipe, one by Loralei Nicoll and one you’re doing on patrolling, are they dovetailing? Are they different? I was ready to put the Journey to Change and body cam officer in the parking lot, but the presenter made a good point about the timing. Can you address that? Are we not putting the cart before the horse? Why do you need this person now?
Kinsella: In July our traffic unit went back on to the streets, each division has a school response officer, but not as beefed up as in the past. There’s also a contingency of community response officers. But moving them back too quickly could be bad due to the pandemic. As far as the quick response unit, it’s a reduced unit. If there’s something specific for your district you should reach out to your police liaison. The report from Nicoll is being worked on, the priority response review and redeployment we’re working on, and moving forward with it. It’s not quick work. The body-worn video position, we made a robust presentation (of the positives only) and different people view body cams differently. The BOPC asked us for this information and we brought it to them. When we brought it back to the board they said we needed to do a deep dive. We need to engage with the community though. We need more information, and we need the policy before cameras. The point of this person is to do research and make a presentation to the Board of Police Commissioners (one person to work on one presentation for a whole year?).
Smith: Two questions, public participation, can you speak on the polygraph tests and the issues that were brought up? Victims services, I know we’ve asked you about this on BOPC, are you back up to pre-COVID levels? If not, is there a plan to increase or investment?
Kinsella: The polygraph is a tool, and I’m not an expert on it, but it has value in investigations so I’ll leave it at that. Police use it across the country. Victims services, we are at pre-COVID numbers in victims services, and we filled a vacant position, so we’re fully staffed. Could we use more staff in victims services? Yes, but we need to be reasonable with the work that’d be done. There’s no great demand saying we’re missing services.
Smith: The committee for Wortley and the reporting on it. There are some gaps, the DOJ is one, we’re coming up to two years. We should get a two year update, and if we’re not doing enough we’ll need to look at it. Online training tech, what does that position entail?
Kinsella: We’re looking to deliver training in different ways. It’ll give us different options.
Savage: We see a great variance in the chief’s office vs operations, why is that?
Horton: The HRP collective agreement is expired and we’re working on a new one, but some years there will be some retroactivity applied. But I’ve had to dig in to find the exact reason why.
Savage: In 2015 the Chief’s office budget was $19 million! I’d like a brief on that at some point, can I get that?
Savage: The AG’s report, do you have what you need to fix it? I know she said it wasn’t resource heavy.
Kinsella: We’re in the preparation stages, we may ask for money, but most of them are policies.
Lovelace: We’d all benefit from the full presentation on the body cam thing (or read our coverage here). But crime prevention, in looking at the severity index we can see a drop. It’s not that we’ve had less crime, it’s that less crime has been reported. People struggle in reporting sexualized crime to the police. As a young teenager downtown, I always had safety measures in place, like keys in my hand and scanning for escape routes. Are we doing a good job in preventing crime? What proactive measures are the HRP taking? What measures have been done to ensure the protection of information of the victims of child pornography?
Kinsella: On reporting, or the lack thereof, it’s important. We are constantly encouraging people to report. From the prevention standpoint, we take it seriously, the special victims unit is something we’ve done. We made sure there were enough people staffing it to make sure the investigators could do their work, we’re making sure everyone is trained in trauma informed training (these are reactive, not proactive prevention). Prevention is a community effort though, so we’re making sure we’re having those conversations. When it comes to the data we follow the guidelines of the freedom of information legislation.
Lovelace: I agree with Outhit I think it’s important for officers in schools to build the relationship with the police from a young age.
Cuttell: Diversity and inclusion is important. 5000 hours the HRP volunteered is important to build trust. On community relationships, beyond stating a commitment to work collaboratively with communities, what are the measurable outcomes of success? What kind of collaborations are being planned? Are we going for enough in advancing a new model of community safety? What’s the issue with restoring the community response officers? There’s just four right now, but you said yourself it was important. There’s a survey planned, but what’s the spirit of the survey? Beyond the survey how do you plan on working with community partners? Number of speeding and stunting offences, how does that compare to last year or the last three years? Overtime, what per cent of the budget is overtime? Can we decrease this?
Kinsella: The measurement of effectiveness, we have a number of areas we do that. We do it through a bunch of programs and branches. We try and meet their needs. Part of the measure of success is the number of applicants to be police officers (what? It’s a stable job in a shit economy, same reason people join the military). The survey is to find out what types of questions we should be asking, it’s part of Wortley. One of the things that’s related, how can the community come to us and present us their issues, we moved our professional standards branch out of HQ to make people more comfortable. We also gave them more investigative power to keep their investigations in-house. On the overtime budget, it’s about 2.5-3 per cent of the budget over the past several years, it’s fallen due to COVID. You can’t plan for a homicide and you can’t not staff them, so that would require overtime. But we’re trying to make our scheduling more efficient.
Kent: Speeding and safety on our streets, I’m going to bring it up every time I get a chance. It’s really really really problematic. It’s not alarmist, it’s real. People are afraid for their children and pets. We need to address it. It needs to be a priority. Can you share with us again how our policing services going to allocate this budget to beef up your contribution to slowing our streets down? I would go so far as to ask you if there’s something we can do in this budget for enforcement or education? What percentage of this budget is going to street safety?
Kinsella: I’ll start with body-worn video (I missed this in Kent’s question) the extra ask in the budget is due to the BOPC feedback. Speeding and road safety issues are one of the largest areas of complaints we get. We have a dedicated traffic team (of 10 officers out of a force numbering over 500), we identify hotspots and set up enforcement. We also work with Brad Anguish’s team on traffic calming. The point of redistribution, this budget included funding the traffic unit, but there’s no additional ask for more traffic enforcement officers. Reallocating existing resources into traffic units would mean removing something else in our current structure since we’re pretty lean (here are some police salaries from 2019).
Kent: Clarification, how do I get the chief to cost out how much it would cost to beef up traffic enforcement?
Austin: Generally I’m okay with what’s in front of us. Maintaining the status quo is going to go up every year since salaries go up every year (must be nice to have a job where salaries go up every year). When you answered Smith, did you answer if HRP is using polygraph for employment?
Kinsella: Yes we use it as a screening tool for security clearances.
Austin: They’ve been responsible for wrongful convictions and have dubious merit. The disposition clerk has been done off other people’s desks? I think it’s important to have solid records because it has gotten police in trouble. I think about our evidence locker (here’s Jacob Boon’s piece on that). If people are doing this as a secondary duty, what isn’t being done?
Kinsella: Not having someone assigned to this, members prioritize their primary duties and it just falls by the wayside. I don’t want to say more in public about this, but happy to in-camera because there are concerns around vulnerability.
Austin: Maybe we should get the disposition clerk piece in-camera then.
Stoddard: The department is dealing with worker’s comp, what’s the cost to deal with workers comp and how much are we saving? Is there money for mental health issues for officers? Officers deal with bias ‘as much as they can,’ are they getting training on unconscious bias? The new gun control legislation means we can pass bylaws to control handguns, do you have thoughts about that?
Kinsella: I don’t have the worker’s comp costs handy, Horton’s looking them up right now though. We take mental health very seriously and we have training about how to deal with and de-escalate calls with people who are going through mental health issues. We also have an internal support system in place. We have gyms. We have training about bias, and we need to be aware of our biases. We can always do more, and we’re committed to it, and the training recommendations around Wortley should be implemented and around for as long as we’re here doing the job that we do. The proposed handgun legislation is specifically designed around community input, so we should do that. Internally, we’re aware of the incidents around illegal handguns. One shooting in a community is one shooting too many.
Deagle-Gammon: $2.2 million on external services, $1.9 million on other goods and services what are those expenses?
Kinsella: They are a number of things we have to pay for, mainly commissioners to staff our buildings and do tasks. DNA processing we have to go offsite for, and building rentals and stuff like that.
Mancini: The body cam position, what specifically would their role be for the next 12 months?
Kinsella: Primarily community engagement. Every community is different and has different needs so we need the right dialogue. They’ll also be doing privacy impact assessments. They’ll also be doing further research. They’ll also be doing engagement with subject matter experts. We want to make sure we can give you the most robust answer possible.
Mancini: I’d like to move the body-worn camera position on the ‘parking lot’ list. One of the speakers this morning, both speakers were against the body cams, but it’s a tool. We need policy in place before we make body-worn cameras active. We saw what happened with George Floyd, and they could confirm that the interaction with police was bad from the start, it helped (the trial starts on March 8, we don’t know if it has “helped” yet).
Kent: What’s the cost?
Mancini: $85,000 for one 12 month term.
Kent: I was under the impression that the cost of community engagement was going to in your normal budget, what’s this $85,000 for?
Kinsella: It’s for the body-worn coordinator, when the BOPC asked if there was anything we needed we asked for this.
Russell: This’ll go in the ‘parking lot’ if we vote for this.
Deagle-Gammon: Can you share the BOPC presentation about body cams to the rest of council?
Smith: Yup, we had two presentations on it, maybe we can get that sent via the clerks?
Russell: Over lunch?
Clerks: We’ll do our best.
Smith: I still don’t know if body cams are something I’d support. There are two processes ongoing with regard to the HRP. This body cam person that would be hired would be in charge of, or supporting, public consultations? How will it work into the stuff that’s already on the go?
Kinsella: It’s a dedicated resource to focus on this policy and assist with it. We currently don’t have the capacity to assign someone specifically to that task. To assign it any other way we wouldn’t get the information I believe the BOPC is looking for.
Smith: It’s probably a needle in a haystack to find a single person who can develop policy and be good with engaging the public.
Russell: Can you read the motion into the record?
Mancini: *Reads the motion into the record*
M/S/C – Vote – Aye – Outhit, Deagle-Gammon, Hendsbee, Kent, Purdy, Austin, Mancini, Smith, Cleary, Morse, Cuttell, Stoddard, Lovelace, Russell – Abstain – Savage, Mason, Blackburn (absent)
*Adjourn for lunch*
*Back from lunch and the in-camera session*
Russell: Welcome back.
Smith: I just want to move putting the budget item in the ‘parking lot’, but I have to fix my computer.
Outhit: I’m happy to move the Journey to Change training to add it to the budget ‘parking lot’.
Russell: Speakers for this motion?
M/S/C – Vote – Aye – Deagle-Gammon, Kent, Purdy, Austin, Mancini, Mason, Smith, Cleary, Morse, Cuttell, Stoddard, Lovelace, Russell, Outhit, Savage – Abstain – Hendsbee, Blackburn (absent)
Russell: Journey to Change is in the ‘parking lot’, we’re back on the main motion.
Cuttell: Just following up with Kinsella about the speeding and stunting offences and what the numbers are year over year and what this means in terms of policing for 2021.
Russell: Looks like Kinsella is having IT issues.
Kinsella: 2015 to 2019 were low teens or single digits. In 2020 it was 66. We know it’s an issue. We’re working with Brad Anguish’s team, and we’re working to better respond to information given to us by community members and councillors. Distracted driving in 2020, there were over 500 but fewer by a hundred or more in previous years.
Smith: I don’t remember what I already spoke about, my computer’s not working great. Why are we putting items in the parking lot for the HRP since we normally don’t have specific say on items in the HRP’s budget?
Traves: Smith is correct, the overs are a request to increase the overall envelope, but at the end of the day the BOPC is free to determine where the money goes if it’s given to the HRP. (Meaning even if these specific items are approved there’s no guarantee that’s what they’ll be spent on.)
Lovelace: Revenue, the tickets for stunting, what’s the revenue from tickets?
Kinsella: HRP doesn’t get any of the ticket revenue, it goes through the courts and is divided up there.
Fraser: Basically that. There is some in the budget, but it’s a small number.
Lovelace: The fees have been dropped due to COVID, but I was wondering if the revenue line was normally higher, thanks.
Kent: Is adding street safety to the budget ‘parking lot’ the best place to do this (no, see Traves’ answer above)? I don’t want to raise the tax rate, but I’d like to know where Kinsella stands on addressing the speeding issues and unsafe conditions in the HRM.
Kinsella: You want to increase traffic services, without raising the budget or impacting other policing services?
Kent: Yeah can you wave that magic wand? (It’s weird to me that police are the only government department we ask for permission to do this instead of just cutting and making them deal with it like we do to education, for example. Did you know the education assistants for special needs students get paid like $30k a year?)
Kinsella: *Laughing* Talk to the BOPC and give me direction and I’ll bring something back to you (I’m not laughing, for the record, I’m mad. HAHAHA just imagine we treated the police like other departments HAHAHA).
Kent: Ultimately the decision is made at the commission level so I can have another kick at it there?
CAO: The question today is, “do you approve the budget?”, the rest of it is the purview of the BOPC. (Meaning the rest of this debate is… useless?)
Austin: I’d like to move the clerk position to the ‘parking lot’. This position is worthwhile adding, there’s a need and value to add this to the budget.
M/S/C – Vote – Aye – Kent, Purdy, Austin, Mancini, Mason, Smith, Cleary, Morse, Cuttell, Stoddard, Lovelace, Russell, Outhit, Deagle-Gammon, Hendsbee, Savage – Abstain – Blackburn (absent)
Russell: A question from Hendsbee about the mounted unit.
Hendsbee: We had a presentation from the public about possible cuts to the mounted unit. Not many parades with horses due to COVID. How many horses do we have? I like the symbolism of them. Is the horse mounted unit necessary anymore?
Kinsella: We have one horse and one rider and it costs $260,000 a year (am I in favour of this? Neigh! Now I’m laughing! But seriously… what?).
Russell: Now we’re voting on the HRP budget.
M/S/C – Vote – Aye – Kent, Purdy, Austin, Mancini, Mason, Smith, Cleary, Morse, Cuttell, Stoddard, Lovelace, Russell, Outhit, Deagle-Gammon, Hendsbee – Abstain – Savage, Blackburn (absent)
Kinsella: Did we deal with the training technician?
Russell: It hasn’t been moved to the ‘parking lot’. On to the RCMP.
Gray: *Makes this presentation* Defunding the police seems to be centred on taking money from the police and giving it to civilian organizations to do work we shouldn’t be doing. They should be funded, but I don’t think people in the HRM want less police officers on the street (I do, if that’s what it takes to fund the civilian organizations to do the work police shouldn’t be doing). Here’s our budget, which I saw for the first time yesterday:
Gray: We’re asking for this:
Gray: Due to budget constraints officers have to do extra secondary duties taking them away from essential duties like traffic enforcement (this feels like a threat).
Russell: There’s an omission in the agenda, there’s no motion to the RCMP budget, I have it now, can someone read it?
Mancini: *Reads the motion* CAO, can you explain how the RCMP agreement works? Is there not a flat rate? Why is she asking for another officer?
Dubé: The RCMP provides policing as agreed, and we pay 70 per cent of the costs. Other municipalities have their own agreements with the RCMP. We’re not that. We have an annual conversation about RCMP policing in the HRM, if the BOPC wants more resources, the province generally has no problem, and they’re subsidized.
Mancini: How many of the sworn officers in the RCMP are working right now?
Gray: We have 183 members, and 11 per cent of those are on leave.
Russell: MOU means ‘memorandum of understanding’. Can your speaking notes be shared with the councillors?
Cleary: 11 per cent of your members are on leave, 20 people are on leave, so 163 active officers? Yes, okay. The new budget is a million more than the recast budget and last year’s budget, and on top of that you want $150,000 ongoing for a new hire? It’s over $2 million more than the March budget. The $29 million budget you presented is good enough, and the extra member is like icing on the cake, not necessary?
Gray: The budget increase isn’t from me. My only ask is the one member.
Cleary: If you have your way you’d have 164 active officers, not 163? Okay.
Russell: My druthers would be closer to 200 officers. (Why? Also you’re out of order)
Mason: I want a pony, chair, we don’t always get what we want. When you’re getting a service for a fee it should be an all-in fee. We’re getting an increase in the budget, what I don’t understand is what is needed to meet the service standards as laid out in the contract if we have to pay more now. If this is required to provide adequate policing why isn’t it in the budget? We have a police force where we hire people, and a police contract where we pay a flat fee, it seems weird to mix these. I’m increasingly uncomfortable that we don’t have a performanced-based contract with the RCMP like we do with everyone else. This is not a reflection of the RCMP, but if I’m being asked to authorize $29 million dollars this year there should be a contract with service standards and clear expectations. But we don’t have a contract, just a letter? There’s no way we give $10 million dollars to Dexter to plow roads on a handshake deal, right?
CAO: We have a contract between the RCMP which has its own standards and quality controls, and the province of Nova Scotia, which is a government. There is an expectation that police standards are maintained by the RCMP. We have the Board of Police Commissioners which provides oversight to the RCMP, and they ask questions of the RCMP, which is different than the HRP because they’re accountable to the city (unless they choose to not tell the BOPC the truth, which they would have gotten away with if it weren’t for that pesky AG). I think we probably need a new MOU.
Gray: About RCMP accountability, I’m accountable to multiple levels of government. We have national standards, when policing standards don’t exist like in NS we use our national standards. In regards to the 90/10 split, that’s a population split. We bring a multitude of other resources to Halifax because we’re the provincial police force.
Savage: I share a concern with other councillors, in 2016 the budget was $24 million, now it’s $29 million and an over. HRM’s budget has grown by 12 per cent and yours has grown by 22 per cent. Is that normal for most municipalities? (I don’t know about you but when I have two redundant services, like Netflix and cable, I get rid of the one that doesn’t provide me much value, do we need redundant police services?)
Gray: I can get you that information.
Savage: It’s a challenge for us because we are growing but we haven’t grown by 22 per cent in any district. So I’d like information. When I’m trying to improve this budget, I’m trying to figure out where the money goes.
Russell: The HRP budget is $89 million (530 officers) the RCMP budget is $29 million (183 officers) So it’s one-third of that amount. But they cover 97 per cent of the geography and have more people per officer in their area so it’s not that big of an increase (or HRP is massively overpaid, but you’re pontificating again, and out of order)
Cuttell: I was thinking along the same lines with regard to officers and service delivery, are crimes reported or calls for service a better comparison? Anyone have those numbers?
Gray: Kinsella’s numbers reflected HRM’s numbers, not just HRP’s numbers. But the detailed split hasn’t been done.
Cuttell: The Armadillos, the speeding cameras, how many are you looking at purchasing? Given the immense geography is that enough Armadillos?
Gray: We’ve got two, they’re being deployed based on stats and calls from the community.
Cuttell: Do we need more of those? Or are you still evaluating them?
Gray: Look and see how they perform and see if they provide value for the money.
Mancini: Can you talk about the impact of not adding the new staff sergeant? And how do you compensate for that?
Gray: We’ll manage, we’ll have to assign other investigators to public complaints which takes them off their primary duties. We’re not managing though, because operational officers have to do “administrative” or “accountability” duties. We assess this all the time, but if they’re doing that stuff they don’t have their “free time” to be out in the community.
Mancini: Do the RCMP use polygraphs?
Gray: Yes, we use a polygraph for a number of reasons. It screens people for bias and racism. (AHAHAHAHAHAHA *breath* HAHAHHAHAHAHA — first link is about racism in the RCMP, second is about polygraphs being… uh… how do you say… ‘bullshit’) I’m not an expert, but it’s not the polygraph, it’s the polygraph interview. It’s an effective interrogation tool (correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this sound like they just abuse their power to trick people?).
Mancini: Body cams?
Gray: We’ve been using body cams for a decade, we have a pilot in Nunavut for a number of reasons. Small membership, cold weather. The feds have already funded body cameras.
Mancini: The Wortley report, HRP apologized when it came out, is the RCMP going to do the same? Do you have an update on this?
Gray: You’ve asked this a number of times, the CRCC has been conducting an investigation, one about street checks one about bias training for RCMP. We’ll be getting an update next month, but the update is that it’s ongoing. A number of our members have been interviewed.
Mancini: The largest African Nova Scotian Community in Nova Scotia is policed by the RCMP.
Cleary: Kind of a comment, I’m shocked and disappointed that polygraphs are used in both investigations and hiring, on the ASA website, the highest accuracy rating of polygraphs is 90 per cent, but usually it’s 70 per cent, but its use is using anxiety to force a confession which can’t be used in court (‘cause that’s literally torture). A validated integrity test is far more valuable than a polygraph so what research is being done into that?
Gray: I’m not an expert in polygraph, but I’ve used it a bunch, but we’re not the United States, we’re Canada, our standards are higher (except the polygraph torture bit). It’s not the polygraph test it’s the skill of our interviewers as to how they utilize the polygraph.
Cleary: I’m not satisfied with that answer, but I’ll accept it.
Russell: The question?
M/S/C – Vote – Aye – Purdy, Austin, Mancini, Mason, Smith, Morse, Cuttell, Stoddard, Russell, Outhit, Deagle-Gammon, Hendsbee, Kent, Savage – Nay – Cleary – Abstain – Lovelace, Blackburn (absent)
Deagle-Gammon: What about the over?
Traves: Any councillor at any time can add an item to the ‘parking lot’.
Cuttell: I’ll move to put the RCMP ask in the ‘parking lot’.
Gray: The $150,000 we’re asking for is the 70 per cent cost, not the full cost.
Deagle-Gammon: If this gets out of the ‘parking lot’ does that mean more officers will be out in the community?
Gray: Yes, public complaints are taking up a lot of time, this member would deal with it.
Smith: Why do you have to come to us for this budget ask instead of the province?
Gray: This is the process that has been developed. The MOU is between the HRM and the province, so I come to the police board first, then council, this is the process.
Traves: The province won’t agree to an increase unless they know the HRM will pay their share.
Dubé: Council’s the decision making body, so they need the direction.
Mason: Did this item go to the BOPC? (Yes it did) Did they approve this?
Gray: They supported the ask. (The Board of Police Commissioners was presented this information at the Feb. 2, 2021 meeting, but never voted on, or formally or informally approved, or supported this request during that meeting)
Mason: This is the first I’ve heard that we can influence what we pay in the MOU.
Austin: This whole MOU thing is fuzzy to me, if we add an additional staff person does the province cover part of it?
Gray: Yes. I agree HRM needs to recognize what it is paying for, but there’s a lot the city doesn’t pay for that’s brought to the HRM because we are the provincial police force (which they still would be, even if they didn’t police the HRM).
M/S/C – Vote – Aye – Cuttell, Russell, Outhit, Deagle-Gammon, Hendsbee, Kent, Purdy – Nay – Austin, Mancini, Mason, Smith, Cleary, Morse, Stoddard, Savage – Abstain – Lovelace (absent), Blackburn (absent) – MOTION FAILS
Mancini: Councillor Lovelace’s vote can’t count if she’s not here (Russell said she was in favour of it).
Kent: What’s the impact of that now for your Chief Gray?
Gray: We just keep doing what we’re doing now.
Russell: Should we recess until Friday morning to deal with the library? (Happy Birthday to me!)
Councillor Paul Russell, Chair (District 15)
Deputy Mayor Tim Outhit (District 16)
Councillor Kathy Deagle-Gammon (District 1)
Councillor David Hendsbee (District 2)
Councillor Becky Kent (District 3)
Councillor Trish Purdy (District 4)
Councillor Sam Austin (District 5)
Councillor Tony Mancini (District 6)
Councillor Lindell Smith (District 8)
Councillor Shawn Cleary (District 9)
Councillor Kathryn Morse (District 10)
Councillor Patty Cuttell (District 11)
Councillor Iona Stoddard (District 12)
Councillor Pam Lovelace (District 13)
Councillor Lisa Blackburn (District 14)
N/A – COVID
Previous meeting and current agenda:
A former Naval Officer turned journalist, Matt Stickland is committed to empowering his community to ensure that everyone has access to the information they need to make their city a better place.
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