Halifax rally calls to defund police, spend more on social services
Those attending upset by deaths of people killed by police sent to do wellness checks
About 100 people who want to divert money from police to social services gathered in Halifax on Friday.
They're upset by the deaths of people who have been killed by police sent to do wellness checks.
They say money for police would be better spent helping people dealing with mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse and other problems.
Masuma Khan, an organizer, said the event was also meant to pay respects to Ejaz Ahmed Choudry, a 62-year-old man who was shot and killed by Peel Police in his apartment in Mississauga, Ont., last weekend during a mental health crisis.
Choudry's family say he suffered from schizophrenia.
"Our asks are centring [around] the family of Ejaz Choudry, it's to defund police, to stop cops from having access to doing quote, unquote wellness checks," Khan said.
Halifax Regional Police spokesperson Const. John MacLeod recently told CBC News that all booking officers and more than 200 officers have been trained in a weeklong crisis intervention course about dealing with individuals with mental health issues, how to recognize different mental health conditions and how to approach them.
'We certainly do our best,' police spokesperson says
He said officers also work with the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team and receive conflict intervention training involving de-escalation techniques and bias-free policing.
Asked what he thought of calls to defund the police, MacLeod said it wasn't his place to comment.
"That's certainly a larger conversation to have," he said. "We certainly do our best. We know we're one small piece of a solution in regards to those that are having a mental health crisis."