Halifax Regional Police broke two glass ceilings last week, as its class of four new superintendents included the force’s first black and first female commissioned officer.
Don MacLean, Colleen Kelly, Robin McNeil and Jim Perrin were promoted Thursday in a packed ceremony at Halifax City Hall.
MacLean, who is black, grew up on Maynard Street, in the shadow of the police headquarters on Gottingen Street, but he never imagined himself inside the blue uniform. He said some people are born wanting to be cops and will make it happen, but his focus is on reaching out to people who don’t see policing in their future.
“They can be just as valuable as police officers and we have a duty to go out and find those people. Someone went out and found me,” he said. “And here I am today, superintendent 16 years later.”
He acknowledged his promotion had a wider importance for the relationship between the police force and black people.
“It’s a personal achievement that’s significant,” he said. “It’s not just me, it’s recognizing those people that came before, that maybe this wasn’t a realistic opportunity for them. Moving forward, there are people that will come behind me and recognize that it can be done. That’s pretty powerful stuff.”
Kelly became the first female police superintendent in the same week that Josee Kurtz became the first woman to take command of a Canadian war ship.
“Today marks a tremendous day in the history of Halifax Regional Police and I’m proud to be (part of it),” said Kelly, a 20-year veteran. She’s seen a steady rise in female officers in the force’s ranks.
“You’re seeing more females within policing. It’s probably going to be less a novelty now, which is nice to see.”