Halifax regional council has unanimously approved a motion to have the city's chief administrative officer outline a timeline and process for "a broad review of policing and public safety."
The review would look at the potential to have civilians deliver certain programs like traffic enforcement and mental health mobile intervention teams.
Coun. Waye Mason made the motion on Tuesday.
"This is not an attack on the police," said Mason. "This is a long process of changing how we provide policing and public safety."
Mason also said that a dozen retired police leaders in the community have contacted him to say this is a discussion that needs to take place.
Coun. Lisa Blackburn supports the review, but said the province also needs to be at the table.
"Changes to the Police Act and how mental health services are delivered can't rest on our shoulders," said Blackburn. "We've got to share that burden with the province."
There were questions about the ability to review the RCMP along with Halifax Regional Police. But the head of HRM's legal services, John Traves, said the RCMP is a contracted service and the municipality has the right to ask for changes.
"My understanding is they are willing as any to be a participant in a broader review," said Traves
Other councillors, like Steve Adams, felt such a review should be led by Halifax's board of police commissioners. "They're the body that's responsible for policing," said Adams.
But the city's CAO, Jacques Dubé, was unequivocal about the council's role.
"This is squarely in the wheelhouse of council," said Dubé. "Council decides the police budget and decides the police model."
'This will not be easy'
Dubé went on to say that HRM would need to hire an outside consultant to help conduct such a review, prompting Coun. Russell Walker to issue a warning.
"This will not be easy," said Walker. "And it won't be cheap, so I wish you luck."
Coun. Mason agreed it could be as "painful" as the Wortley report, which analyzed 12 years of data and found that Black people in Halifax were six times more likely to be street checked than white people.
Still, he said it would be worth examining the issue.
"We're going to go deep, into deep issues," said Mason. "I think we need to."
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