The entrance of a grocery store is seen, with a uniformed police officer at the door.
A Halifax Regional Police officer at the Braemar Superstore on Tuesday. Photo: Zane Woodford

Halifax Regional Police officers in full uniform have been patrolling Superstore locations across the municipality in recent weeks, and neither the police or the grocery chain are keen to talk about why.

The Halifax Examiner has seen officers at the Braemar Drive location in Dartmouth and the Joseph Howe Drive location in Halifax, and seen reports and photos from the Quinpool Road and Bayers Lake locations.

They have a police officer at Braemar Superstore now, which is ironic to me considering grocery prices are absolutely effing criminal right now.

— Ashley Mac (@imashleymi) July 11, 2022

Const. John MacLeod, spokesperson for Halifax Regional Police, didn’t reply to questions specific to Superstore, but said private businesses are able to hire off-duty officers.

“We have an extra duty program that is staffed by officers who volunteer to fill positions while off duty,” MacLeod wrote in an email.

“Business, organizations, public and private events can place requests for officers to conduct policing duties on or near their facilities and are responsible for the associated costs. These requests do not draw from our primary policing duties and are only filled if there are officers available from the extra duty program.”

Coun. Lindell Smith, chair of the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners, did not respond to interview requests.

Throughout the budget-building process this year, Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella said police were in “dire straits” because so many officers were off work. That justification led to council approving a budget increase for the hiring of new officers.

Mark Boudreau, director of corporate affairs for Loblaw Companies Limited, Superstore’s parent company, declined an interview request to talk about why the grocery chain is using police to secure its stores: “we don’t comment on the specifics of our various in-store loss prevention or security measures.”

Grocery store chains, including Loblaw, have been raking in record profits through the pandemic. A recent Toronto Star investigation found those profits are outpacing inflation. For the first quarter of 2022, Loblaw reported increased revenue of $390 million, or 3.3%; gross profit of 31.1%, an increase of 0.8%; and an 11% increase to the dividend paid to shareholders.

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Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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  1. Well,see a couple of things amiss. Wasn’t the HRP budget increase to provide more officers so to have the coverage to avert extensive overtime leading to officer stress etc. Seems like it was to free them up for moonlighting.

    Their uniform,weapon and so on is supplied by HRM so they in essence are using HRM equipment to earn extra personal finances. And what ever happened to the leaving their weapon at the station after the gun theft from a car of an off duty officer? Can’t HRP find any overtime for these people they have to work for others on the side? Many questions. What does HRP pay as to what the private sector pays,and are they there for a specific reason or will this become a norm…can’t blame the private companies for baulking as they now have to compete with a government agency in fact.

  2. Are the police actually in the grocery store? I ask because the NSLC recently hired police to deter theft from the NSLC stores. I know that the larger sites like Joseph Howe an Braemar were priority. This is not about people lifting the odd bottle of Crown Royal. There are groups of people who walk into the stores with kit bags and leave after cleaning off a shelf. It is organized and losses from theft have increased in the last two years.

  3. Seeing police in these roles is a visual representation of their primary function: to enforce the social order under capitalist social relations. As prices skyrocket – amid record profits – and working class and poor people are priced out of food, thefts will increase by necessity. Police are a stronger measure to counteract and deter thefts than private security. The history of police is a history of quelling working class revolts, including strikes, and putting deviants of the class order in jail. Priorities in the law emphasize the point. If convicted of theft from an employer, a person will invariably face a prison sentence, even if the quantity is minor, while there is no criminal offence for wage theft by an employer. And the maximum sentence for breaking and entering is life in prison, the most severe of punishments.

  4. I agree with Jim Milne. When I noticed the armed police officer at the Braemar Superstore I thought there might be a robbery in progress and decided not to go inside.

  5. While I don’t see a problem with cops wanting to take on a part-time security job outside of work hours, I do have an issue with them wearing their official uniforms including weapons in that capacity. This shouldn’t happen even if it’s the department running a side hustle by renting them out to the private sector. Also, I would expect private security companies would have a strong case for unfair an competition claim if the department is using publicly funded assets to run a business.
    Personally, if I enter a store and see armed security, I will turn around and find somewhere else to spend my money.

  6. Possibly also Shopper’s Drug Mart. Saw an officer seemingly posted in the electronics section of the Robie Street Shopper’s Thursday. Although there appeared to be another officer in the cruiser parked out by the doors

    1. As I was looking for my car in the Quinpool Super Store parking lot a couple of weeks ago there was a woman shouting and running about, having a melt down, perhaps about rising food prices. The manager was on the phone with the police. Police didn’t seem the best response, I tried to tell him. Clearly he had no idea who else to call. Neither did I. That information just isn’t out there. A few minutes later Quinpool was full of speeding police cars, sirens on. Surely an inappropriate reaction to the situation. But if the trigger was rising food prices, so might be a social worker…