**** HRP Media Release
Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella’s statement regarding enforcement at homeless encampments on municipal property
Below is a statement from Chief Kinsella as delivered at a press conference earlier today. The full video of the media conference is available on the Halifax Regional Police YouTube channel at http://youtu.be/fF8M6tM-lv8
“I want to provide some background on yesterday’s enforcement actions related to several illegal homeless encampments, I will also answer several questions that have been raised and provide the surrounding context.
“Over the last several months, there has been an ongoing increase in complaints and calls for police service in the areas of and surrounding a number of illegal encampments across Halifax Regional Municipality. These complaints relate to assaults, domestic disputes, thefts, indecent acts, liquor offences, break and enters, and allegations of threatening behaviour.
“Following months of unsuccessful attempts at direct engagement, awareness and education efforts with the occupants, yesterday, we used our enforcement options to respond to the ongoing situation. As well all occupants were provided with an additional opportunity to access housing opportunities. It came on the heels of verbal warnings to occupants as well as formal written notices earlier in the week to vacate the dwellings.
“Yesterday, along with compliance officers and Parks and Recreation members, HRP officers were peacefully able to vacate three of the highest risk encampments in Halifax. While attending the Spring Garden Road site, protesters’ behaviour and actions created unsafe conditions for both themselves, the public and our officers.
“Many have claimed the protestors were peaceful. The reality is that many were confrontational, assaultive, caused hazardous situations and as a structure was being removed and heavy equipment nearby, some threw themselves in the path of heavy equipment and officers doing their work that had to be done.
“A number of the protestors were also organized, armed with sensory irritant and projectiles. Some also brought decontamination for the sensory irritant. Some of the protestors’ behaviour included throwing projectiles at our officers and municipal staff and damaging municipal property. This not only hampered the removal efforts but could have led to serious injury for anyone in the vicinity.
“As a result of these events, unfortunately, HRP had to make 24 arrests for offences that included obstruction, assault police, resist arrest and mischief. Given the volume of people, it took time to process each of them appropriately. All were released from custody in the evening on a promise to appear.
“Additionally, there are some questions being raised on social media and email correspondence that we are happy to address in the Q/A section to the extent that we can. I also want to say that citizens have been following lots of social media commentary and some claims that have been made. Please do not take every claim as a fact.
“I also encourage people to take a close look at videos and visuals to gain a perspective on the complexities of the situation our officers were met with yesterday. These could have led to widespread and serious injuries.
“I also want to address the issue of media access that has been raised. I want to be very clear. HRP respects the right of media and expects their participation in matters of public interest and we make every effort to facilitate their access. At this time, we have no specific information in relation to our officers’ asking media for credentials, as has been claimed. However, here is some context. This was a rapidly evolving and fluid situation, officers were in the process of containing a situation and establishing an operational perimeter. This was to allow for the safe removal of temporary dwellings that were in fact illegal. A number of reporters chose to set-up or film very close to the area where there was active removal work going on to keep them away from the hazardous situations.
“Police were responsible for the safety of everyone at the scene. For safety reasons, an officer repeatedly asked a reporter to move from the area back to a nearby area above some steps that the reporters were on. This was not meant to limit their access to the events or their reporting efforts, but to ensure that no one would get hurt. The reporter dealing with the officer refused to comply to the instruction that was meant to keep them safe.
“As always, we encourage anyone with any specific or additional details, information or concerns to bring it forward and to connect with our Professional Standards Division by e-mailing email@example.com or by calling 902-490-4127. That would allow us to look at a the matter in its entirety.
“I want to conclude by saying that it is our role to protect the public and provide safety to other users of municipal properties and residents in nearby communities. We cannot also allow trespass and misuse of municipal property to become the norm in our city as we have seen of late with tents and structures appearing arbitrarily on many sites across the municipality.
“Our approach has been and will remain focused on engagement, awareness and education while offering alternatives to those experiencing homelessness. Enforcement will always be a last resort when it comes to this issue as we have seen over the past six months.”
**** HRP ASSOCIATION Release
Statement Regarding HRM Shelter Removals
The Halifax Regional Police Association (HRPA) welcomes an independent inquiry to examine the origins of the policing operation conducted on August 18th, 2021 in Halifax.
“We support our members who so often have no control over the duties they are assigned to perform” says HRPA President Sergeant Dean Stienburg. He adds: “To be effective and legitimate, the policing profession must be free of political and municipal administrative influence and interference.”
Multiple police officers were injured during the operation on Wednesday. HRPA wishes them a speedy recovery and remains grateful to their fellow members and to our partners in law enforcement who came to their aid.
As the Province of Nova Scotia continues its reviews of policing and the criminal justice system, serious reflection should be paid to the independence of policing prescribed in current legislation, and whether it is sufficient to thwart political influence and abuse.
The Halifax Regional Police Association proudly represents the sworn and civilian policing professionals of the Halifax Regional Police