Nova Scotia

Halifax rally calls to defund police, spend more on social services

About 100 people who want to divert funding from police to social services held a rally in Halifax on Friday. They're upset by the deaths of people who have been killed by police sent to do wellness checks.

Those attending upset by deaths of people killed by police sent to do wellness checks

The Friday rally at Grand Parade in Halifax attracted about 100 people. (CBC)

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.

Ejaz Ahmed Choudry, 62, was shot and killed by police in Mississauga , Ont., last weekend. (Submitted by Choudry family)

"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.

"This is an issue we're seeing in Ontario ... and we're also seeing here in the Maritimes where Chantel Moore died and Rodney Levi died with these quote, unquote, wellness checks."

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."

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