HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia senator says the African Nova Scotian community is not surprised by statistics that show they are three times more likely to be street checked by Halifax Regional Police than others.
Numbers released earlier this week by the Halifax Regional Police show that in Halifax, a black person is three times more likely to be stopped by an officer than a white person.
“Whether you call it street checking or a form of racial profiling, it all amounts to the same sort of surveillance that many people of African descent experience on a daily basis,” said Senator Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard.
The police street check statistics show black people represent 20 per cent of the stops, even though the African Nova Scotian community only makes up about 4 per cent of the population of Halifax.
By contrast, white people account for around 70 per cent of the checks, while being the overwhelming majority of Halifax’s population at over 90 per cent.
“Let’s look at this,” said Bernard. “What does this mean; what does this tell us? And most importantly: What does this tell us about unconscious bias and how that finds its way into policing, and what do we do about it? How do we change it? If we don’t name it as racism we don’t ever deal with it”
Regional Police are looking into the numbers, and would not commit to ending the practice of street checks. However, HRP Research Coordinator Dr. Chris Giocamontonio said he was concerned by the statistics, particularly the consistency across the municipality.