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Changes to Halifax police street checks coming in the fall

Halifax's police chief wants to have new policies on street checks ready for this fall.

CBC News investigation revealed black people 3 times more likely to be stopped by police than white people

Street checks are performed on anyone police believe is acting suspiciously. Sometimes the checks involve an officer merely observing someone, while other times police spend time talking to individuals. (CBC)

Halifax's chief of police wants to have new policies on street checks ready for this fall.

"I've already given marching orders to my people as to how we can improve and tighten up our policies," said Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais.

A CBC News investigation revealed black people were three times more likely to be stopped by police than white individuals. The findings were based on data collected between 2005 and 2016.

Chris Giacomantonio, research co-ordinator for Halifax Regional Police, is working with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission to more extensively analyze the data, although details of the project have not yet been released.

The commission is in the process of hiring a second expert for data analysis and it expects to make an announcement within a few weeks.

Some changes can be made now

Blais told the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners there is no need to wait until the analysis work is done to make some changes to procedures.

One change involves ensuring the street check forms are properly filled out and all the required information is provided. The other involves time limits for keeping the street checks on file.

Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais says there have been ongoing discussions with the communities targeted by the street checks.

"I'm not comfortable with street checks that are over two years old," said Blais. "I'd like to start deleting the older data."

Blais acknowledged that some investigators may argue in favour of keeping some street check information on file longer, but he said they will have to be able to justify their requests.

According to the police chief, there have been ongoing discussions with the communities targeted by the street checks.

Halifax Regional Police have also created a new diversity working group that will begin meeting in September.

Blais expects street checks to be one of the topics discussed by the working group.

"This is going to be a work in progress," said Blais.