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Halifax looking to set up committee aimed at improving community relations with police

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Halifax is working on setting up a new advisory committee designed to improve the relationship between police and diverse communities.

The Police Diversity Advisory Committee (PDAC) will replace the Chief’s Diversity Advisory Committee (CDAC), which was set up in the wake of a 2003 human rights board decision that found Halifax Regional Police racially discriminated upon boxer Kirk Johnson.

The CDAC met less and less over the years, and eventually disbanded altogether.

“For lack of a better term, it just petered out, unfortunately,” Chief Jean-Michel Blais said during Monday’s meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners.

The terms of reference for the new committee are still in draft form, but the plan is to have 16 members – including Blais, RCMP members and community members like Emmanuel Baptist Church Rev. Dr. Lennett Anderson, Centre for Islamic Development Imam Mohamed Yaffa, and former councillor, now ISANS director of settlement and integration Jennifer Watts.

The committee would meet four times a year, and make recommendations to police on community policing, diversity and inclusion.

Halifax Regional Police Diversity Equity Officer Const. Amit Parasram presented the draft plan to the board on Monday, and said that while committees like this one won’t automatically solve issues like the current controversy surrounding police street checks, they will create a dialogue.

“I don’t think they’re a solution to that problem, but they will certainly provide insight that the police department doesn’t have access to without input from those community organizations,” he said.

Parasram said some issues the committee will focus are gun violence, race in general and Islamaphobia.

The board still needs to appoint one of its members to the committee and weigh in on its terms of reference. It voted on Monday to defer those decisions so members can take a closer look at the draft plan.

The Police Diversity Advisory Committee (PDAC) will replace the Chief’s Diversity Advisory Committee (CDAC), which was set up in the wake of a 2003 human rights board decision that found Halifax Regional Police racially discriminated upon boxer Kirk Johnson.

The CDAC met less and less over the years, and eventually disbanded altogether.

“For lack of a better term, it just petered out, unfortunately,” Chief Jean-Michel Blais said during Monday’s meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners.

The terms of reference for the new committee are still in draft form, but the plan is to have 16 members – including Blais, RCMP members and community members like Emmanuel Baptist Church Rev. Dr. Lennett Anderson, Centre for Islamic Development Imam Mohamed Yaffa, and former councillor, now ISANS director of settlement and integration Jennifer Watts.

The committee would meet four times a year, and make recommendations to police on community policing, diversity and inclusion.

Halifax Regional Police Diversity Equity Officer Const. Amit Parasram presented the draft plan to the board on Monday, and said that while committees like this one won’t automatically solve issues like the current controversy surrounding police street checks, they will create a dialogue.

“I don’t think they’re a solution to that problem, but they will certainly provide insight that the police department doesn’t have access to without input from those community organizations,” he said.

Parasram said some issues the committee will focus are gun violence, race in general and Islamaphobia.

The board still needs to appoint one of its members to the committee and weigh in on its terms of reference. It voted on Monday to defer those decisions so members can take a closer look at the draft plan.

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