Nova Scotia

N.S.'s top Mountie apologizes to black community in Digby

Nova Scotia's top Mountie apologized Wednesday for a second time to the black community of Digby for sexist and racist comments made by the former head of the Digby RCMP detachment.

Nova Scotia's top Mountie apologized Wednesday for a second time to the black community in Digby for sexist and racist comments made by the former head of the Digby RCMP detachment.

At a Halifax news conference Wednesday, Assistant Commissioner Ian Atkins said the former detachment commander, who retired two years ago, made inappropriate comments.

Atkins did not name the former detachment commander, although it is apparent he was speaking about former staff sergeant Wylie Grimm, who was in command of the Digby detachment before being placed on administrative leave in 2005.

On Tuesday night, Atkins apologized at a public meeting in Digby, attended by members of the black community there.

The apology was necessary, Atkins said on Wednesday, to allow the RCMP and the community to move on.

"Those things had to be acknowledged, and to demonstrate to the community that we were prepared to move forward and to work with the community in developing appropriate sensitivity strategies that would regain the trust of the community," he said.

Atkins said in his 35 years with the force, this is the first time he has needed to apologize to a community. He said the problems at the Digby detachment were the result of the actions of one person, and were not systemic.

He said he wants the community to know that the RCMP are there to provide "unbiased and culturally sensitive" policing. There are four black officers among the 16 at the detachment.

Three years ago, two women who worked at the detachment complained that Grimm made sexually suggestive and racist comments to them and that he engaged in unwanted touching over two years beginning in 2003.

Atkins said an investigation found the complaints to be true and that he had made racist comments about a black male constable.

The two women no longer work at the Digby detachment.

Atkins said that a member of the black community will sit on a local committee to identify policing issues that need to be addressed.

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