Halifax regional council met behind closed doors yesterday discussing the future of policing in the municipality, and will do so again today.
Council convened to receive and review a report from the Board of Police Commissioners. While the specific details of the report haven’t been made public, it’s believed it recommends expanding the Halifax Regional Police to service the entire municipality.
If council accepts the recommendation, it would essentially eliminate the RCMP’s presence in HRM. As of right now, there are close to 180 RCMP officers serving outlying regions of the municipality such as Sackville and Cole Harbour.
Mayor Peter Kelly said there are several reasons this issue is being discussed in private.
“It involves public security, contract, staffing,” Kelly said following yesterday’s in-camera meeting that wrapped up late in the day. “Due to public security, we do not want to disclose to the criminal element where there may be some deficiencies in our overall system.”
Since first reported last week, the report has provoked vocal public support for the RCMP. But Kelly said the information leaked to some media outlets isn’t the final version of the report.
“Again, that was from working papers the media had,” he said. “They are not part of this discussion today. We know that there is support for the RCMP throughout the municipality, we know that there is support for the HRP throughout the municipality … That’s not the debate.”
Kelly admitted there was a vote to open the discussion up to the public yesterday, but wouldn’t reveal the outcome.
Kelly also defended the Board of Police Commissioners, comprised of three councillors and three citizens, saying they did what council requested — review the policing structure and come back with recommendations.
“Now it’s in the hands of council and council will decide where to go from here,” Kelly said. “There’s no predisposed or predetermined outcome.”
Council is reconvening this morning to continue the debate.