Thursday, July 16, 2009

Racial profiling complaints by Halifax Police Service officers against their force filed in Nova Scotia

According to a CBC story published in early June, Constable Charles Bruce of the Halifax Police Service has filed a complaint against the HRP alleging racial discrimination. It is the third such complaint filed within the last year. Const. Bruce alleges that he was not considered for promotion and transfer because of his skin colour. He also alleges that systemic racism within the force is a continuing problem.

Const. Bruce’s complaint arrives on the heels of similar complaints filed against the HRP by Sgt. Robyn Atwell and former police officer Lewis Cain in December 2008. Further, such incidents of internal racial discrimination do not seem to be isolated. Halifax Regional Municipality is currently dealing with several racial discrimination complaints filed by black firefighters with Halifax Fire Services.

The complaints of the three officers with the HRP are detailed on a website that has been developed to draw attention to these issues, Robyn Atwell, HRP’s first black female Sergeant, claims that she has experienced racism since first becoming a member of the force in 2003. Atwell alleges that she has had a knife pulled on her by a member of the force. Cain, the other officer who has filed a complaint, was terminated just 15 months after he was hired due to what he alleges was racial discrimination by both higher ranking officers and his supervisor.

The three officers are represented by Rocky Jones, a prominent lawyer in Nova Scotia who has represented several complaints involving racial discrimination, perhaps the most well known of which is R. v. S.(R.D.).

Posted by Ashley Paterson (Law II) (LEAP Summer Intern)

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