1. Street checks
“All Halifax Regional Police officers — from the chief through to new recruits — will receive training in 2018 on fair and impartial policing in order to improve street check practices that disproportionately target black people,” reports Sherri Borden Colley for the CBC:
It’s one of several measures the police force is taking, Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais told the board of police commissioners on Monday.
The force will also conduct a privacy review of street checks to consider whether police retain street check records for the appropriate amount of time, continue to analyze street check data and develop community education related to citizens’ rights during interactions with police.
“In the report Blais claims that street checks “are a vital part of the overall intelligence picture, and the records are used in virtually every investigation,” comments Robert Devet:
It’s “an estimation” though, not a fact, and Blais’ statement does raise the question how street checks are a vital part of solving say white collar crimes or domestic abuse, or crimes that are committed in the suburbs, where street checks don’t really seem to happen much.
People can just refuse to interact with an officer if they don’t want to talk, Blaise said during a scrum with reporters after the meeting, or they can file a complaint if they feel they are not treated properly.
Many Black people would say things aren’t that simple.
In fact, the report refers to meetings that have occurred where “the African diaspora and the African Nova Scotian community expressed “consistent and substantial concerns about their experiences with street checks, traffic stops and, more generally, the quality of interactions with police and privacy.”
The report is silent on this, but I’d guess that these victimized citizens weren’t recommending there be more talk and more analysis. Nonetheless, that’s what they are getting.
2. Fall River quarry
“The province’s Environment Department has approved a controversial quarry in Goffs, near Fall River,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:
Scotian Materials Ltd. has received a 10-year approval to operate a four-hectare site on Perrin Drive.
It’s been a long process for the company to reach this point. It filed a new application for the permit in early 2017 after abandoning a plan for a judicial review of a decision by former environment minister Andrew Younger to revoke an earlier permit.
When Younger yanked the approval in 2015, he attributed the decision to a lack of public consultation by the company.
Adrian Fuller, the Environment Department’s executive director of enforcement and compliance, said the new approval was granted after the company satisfied public consultation requirements and addressed concerns about blasting, noise and water protection efforts.
3. Nadia Gonzales
Steve Bruce, reporting for Local Xpress, has more details on the murder of Nadia Gonzales, the 35-year-old Bedford woman who was killed Friday in an apartment at 33 Hastings Drives in Dartmouth:
A 69-year-old man was seriously injured in the incident. He was found on the lawn of a school across the street from the apartment building, a witness said.
Samanda Rose Rich, 19, of Halifax and Calvin Joel Maynard Sparks, 23, of Dartmouth face charges of first-degree murder, attempting to murder John Patterson and possession of a weapon (a knife) for a dangerous purpose.
Sparks is also charged with breaching probation.
Sources told Local Xpress the incident was drug-related.
4. Chelsie Probert
Police have not released any more details in the murder of Chelsie Probert, the 18-year-old woman who was found on the footpath between Albro Lake Road and Farrell Street last week.
I went to the path yesterday and found a memorial had been constructed for Probert. Someone had placed solar-powered lights along the sidewalk and attached more to a fence parallelling it, and a man was mowing through some thick brush, apparently with the aim of opening up sight lines along the path.
5. Stupid violence
The murders of Chelsie Probert and Nadia Gonzales in Dartmouth, the walk-by shooting in Mulgrave Park, the details of the drug-dealing scene that led to the murder of Taylor Samson, and other recent reports of violence make me wonder about the role of violence in parts of our community. It’s incredible to me that young people would be ready to throw away the next couple of decades of their lives to satisfy a petty urge for revenge for a perceived slight, over a few thousand dollars in a drug deal, or just for spite. But evidently there’s a not-insigificant level of background violence in some people’s lives such that contemplating beating the crap out of someone or shooting them dead is within the spectrum of acceptable or at least expected behaviour.
This morning, I happened to be reading a court document that details a particular instance of stupid violence. The events described below come from the information to obtain a court warrant, a document sworn to by Constable Phil Aptt.
On May 26, police Constable Cole Hayes was called to Gerrish Tower, which is one of the buildings in Harbour View apartments, the complex that used to be called Ocean Towers. Outside, Constable Hayes found a guy, let’s call him MacDonald (that’s not his real name), lying on his back, and Hayes observed that MacDonald “had blood coming from his head and that he was missing his right shoe.” An ambulance was called and MacDonald was taken to the QE2.
Meanwhile, Constable Hayes followed a trail of blood into the building and all the way up to the 16th floor. In the hallway outside of one of the units, Hayes smelled “some sort of cleaner” and heard a male voice inside the apartment muttering “It’s like a fucking crime scene.” Hayes knocked on the door, which was opened by a guy named Devin Davenport-Cook. Hayes “noticed lots of blood in the apartment”; Davenport-Cook told Hayes that “the victim [MacDonald] wanted to fight him, so he struck him with a bottle.”
At the hospital, MacDonald told the police that he was simply waiting for his buddy Dylan to get off work, so stopped by the apartment, where Dylan’s roommate Devenport-Cook was drinking with three other people — two men and a woman. MacDonald said he had two rum and cokes and then decided to leave. But for some inexplicable reason the four started to attack him. He stumbled to the elevator and didn’t remember anything else.
According to his sister, the injured MacDonald managed to call first his sister here in Halifax and then his parents in Cape Breton to tell them he was “bleeding out.”
One of the other men in the apartment told a slightly different story. This guy explained that while the four of them were minding their own business and sitting around drinking, MacDonald started to yelling at them from his balcony, one floor down. Soon after, MacDonald showed up uninvited on the 16th floor and let himself in the apartment.
As the man described it, MacDonald was drunk and “was being annoying by fooling with a screen door and knocking over a glass, as a result of his level of intoxication.” Davenport-Cook told MacDonald to leave, but MacDonald responded by calling Davenport-Cook a “little bitch.” MacDonald “became aggressive and began to remove one of his shoes,” and MacDonald and Davenport-Cook “began to bump chests.” Davenport-Cook “then struck the victim [MacDonald] in the head with a broken bottle and threw a few punches at him.” MacDonald “then left the apartment bleeding from his head.”
According to a police release, MacDonald suffered “non-life-threatening injuries.” The police charged Davenport-Cook with aggravated assault. The charge hasn’t been tested in court, and who knows what the judge will rule when it is. It’s just all so stupid.
None of this is particularly interesting or enlightening. But it’s a snapshot into the petty lives of violence lived by a whole lot of people in our community.
6. Tidal turbine
“Cape Sharp Tidal Inc. successfully retrieved its 1,000 tonne, OpenHydro tidal turbine [Thursday] from the FORCE test site at Black Rock west of Parrsboro,” reports Bruce Wark.
“The company had planned to move the turbine in April from near Parrsboro to St. Marys Bay to do some short-term hydrodynamic testing,” adds Frances Willick for the CBC:
But a mooring line became entangled in it, so the move was postponed.
Cape Sharp spokesperson Stacey Pineau said the company now has no plans to resume the testing in St. Marys Bay. The proposed testing had drawn opposition from some fishermen, who said no environmental assessment had been carried out for that work.
7. Death in custody
It’s been a year since a man died in police custody, and still he has not been publicly identified nor has it been explained how the death happened. “Apart from the threat to civil liberties, a year of official silence dishonours the life and death of a man who was loved and is missed,” writes Bill Turpin.
Turpin has a theory for the silence:
[T]he Serious Incident Response Team, which investigates possible misdeeds in the policing world, and the Public Prosecution Service, which prosecutes when SiRT brings charges against someone, don’t get along.
And they don’t get along, the theory goes, because of the “Officer 1” case. In January 2016, SiRT charged Officer 1 with stealing “cut”, a substance used for diluting illegal drugs, from the HRP evidence room. The PPS, aka “the Crown”, failed to act until it was too late to go ahead with the prosecution, so Officer 1 got to walk away from it all.
Turpin gives details and links to documents in the “Officer 1” case (this is
Former Gary BassoRCMP Staff Sgt. Craig Robert Burnett [updated 12:50pm. Mea culpa]). Turpin continues:
At best, we have here a conflict between two public agencies with different mandates over two unrelated policing issues. Worse, is the possibility the two organizations are engaged in a peeing match. Worst, is the possibility that SiRT believes the PPS is protecting bad cops.
How have we arrived at these hypotheses? We know that MacDonald wants to charge someone because both SiRT and the PPS acknowledge they’re currently discussing CR’s [the man killed in custody] case. Chris Hansen, a PPS spokesperson, said last week: “I think it would be correct to say advice from the Crown is ongoing as the investigation continues.”
We know that SiRT and PPS have been batting this one back and forth since January or February because MacDonald told me in late 2016 that CR’s case would be ready early in 2017.
In other words, as in the Officer 1 case, SiRT wants to prosecute and the Crown is taking a long time to get on board.
8. Roseate terns
“Scientists are searching islands off southwest Nova Scotia for roseate terns after about one third of Canada’s population of the endangered seabirds failed to return to their normal nesting grounds,” reports Chris Lambie for Local Xpress:
“They are out there somewhere. We just don’t know where they are,” Julie McKnight, a biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service, told Local Xpress.
“Hopefully they found a great little island and they’re in with lots of other terns to keep them safe.”
The concern is that the terns can’t find decent nesting places because of invasive grasses that have infiltrated North Brother Island. Lambie continues:
Last year, 50 pairs of roseate terns made their summer home on North Brother amidst more than 600 pairs of the common and arctic variety. The 1,200-square-metre teardrop shaped island lies about four kilometres off the coast of West Pubnico.
This year, scientists have only spotted 24 pairs of the endangered birds on North Brother.
“So we’re missing about half,” McKnight said, noting there are only 73 pairs of roseate terns in all of Canada.
City Council (10am, City Hall) — council will discuss the Living Wage proposal, indoor ice services and a temporary stadium on the Wanderers Grounds. I have a morning appointment, but I’ll be at the meeting in time to catch all of those matters, and will live-blog the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.
Audit & Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall) — the committee is looking at annual financial statements.
City Council (Wednesday, 1pm, City Hall) — if Tuesday’s meeting runs long, council will continue it on Wednesday.
No public meetings.
No public events.
Thesis Defence, Electrical and Computer Engineering (Wednesday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jan Chochol will defend his thesis, “Plasmonics in Semiconductors.”
Thesis Defence, French (Wednesday, 1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Henri Biahé will defend his thesis, “Parlers Hybrides en Traduction: l’Exemple du Chiac et du Camfranglais.”
Phosphatidylcholine (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Jonghwa (Kyle) Lee will speak on “The Role of Phosphatidylcholine in Lipid Droplet Biogenesis and Lipoprotein Secretion.”
In the harbour
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
6:15am: AHS Hamburg, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 42 from San Juan, Puerto Rico
11:30am: Viking Queen, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
5pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
11pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Autoport to sea
It’s the 5oth anniversary of the Summer of Love, but this year seems to be the Summer of Hate.
The May 29, 2017 edition of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast is an excellent review of the original basis for the Broken Windows approach to policing, and how it has evolved into current practices. I recommend it if you have an interest in street checks/carding: http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510308/hidden-brain.