Nova Scotia

Hate crimes underreported, Halifax police chief tells board of commissioners

Speaking to the Board of Police Commissioners on Monday, Dan Kinsella said local officers are trained to investigate hate crimes, and incidents such as hate graffiti are tracked.

'There's regular outreach to the various communities that are affected by hate,' says HRP Chief Dan Kinsella

Dan Kinsella is chief of the Halifax Regional Police. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Hate crimes are tracked by police in an effort to identify trends and prevent violence, but they remain one of the most underreported crimes, the chief of the Halifax Regional Police said Monday.

Speaking to the Board of Police Commissioners, Dan Kinsella said local officers are trained to investigate hate crimes and incidents are tracked, including hate graffiti. 

"There's regular outreach to the various communities that are affected by hate," he said.

The issue was discussed at a police commission meeting Monday after its chairman, Coun. Lindell Smith, said he was approached by members of the local Muslim community.

"A few weeks ago, a Muslim family was murdered in London, Ont., in a hate crime, and local Muslim leaders want to know how our police investigate hate crimes," said Smith.

Coun. Becky Kent said there have been two recent incidents of hate graffiti at municipal parks in her district of Dartmouth South-Eastern Passage. Kent said while cleaning up hate graffiti is a priority after it's discovered, it's also vital that police are aware of such incidents.

A vigil held at Ummah Masjid Community Centre in Halifax for the Muslim family killed in the attack in London, Ont., earlier this month. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

Chief Supt. Janis Gray of the Halifax district RCMP agreed reporting is key.

"When it comes to hate crimes, it's really important to report everything, even if you're not personally involved in it. It all contributes to the overall picture," said Gray.

Kinsella told the commission the police department is working with Tim Bryan, a sociologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax who specializes in policing and hate crimes, in an effort to identify potential targets of hate crimes.

"Whether it be religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, gender identity, we're trying to see trends to make sure we're identifying particular target groups early so we can do intervention where we can," he said.

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