As 2017 slowly comes to an end and we get ready to welcome the new year, once again I’ve reflected on the past 12 months. Here are some highlights of all that it has involved for us as employees of Halifax Regional Police and residents of HRM and Nova Scotia, especially during this sesquicentennial year in Canada.
- Committed to service: We answered more than 90,000 emergency calls, more than 190,000 police-specific calls, and responded to more than 91,000 dispatched calls. If we add traffic stops and breach checks to the dispatched call amounts, we responded to more than 117,000 calls for service. More than 2500 of those calls for service involved individuals suffering from various mental health issues, which speaks volumes to the importance of continued attention to this area.
- Focused on solving crime: We investigated and solved countless crimes while dealing with the challenges of violence. We continued our emphasis on historical homicides, bringing charges in homicides dating from 2013, 2011 and 2005.
- Staying in step with our 10-year Strategic Plan: We have seen some significant progress in executing our Strategic Plan this past year, including the creation of the Halifax Regional Police Foundation which will have its official launch in 2018.
- Fostering a continuous improvement mindset: We advised our communities of the work we needed to do as part of a drug evidence audit. The processes put in place made effective use of the skills of our research coordinator, Dr. Chris Giacomantonio, and were a demonstration of how HRP is honing its skills in evidence-based decision making.
- Invested in our employees’ wellness: Our new Wellness Program Specialist has started her work, developing a road-map to assist us in achieving better overall health and wellness, both physically and mentally for our people. We are taking steps to approach employee wellness in a holistic way.
- Building on our diverse community relationships: In coordination with Halifax District RCMP, we established the Police Diversity Working Group, comprised of several leaders from the LGBTQ2+, the African-Nova Scotian, Indigenous, Muslim and mental health advocate communities. The Working Group will guide both police services in dealing with some of the challenges faced by their respective communities, including access to community policing initiatives and street checks.
- Stepping up to major challenges of 2017: Many issues surfaced or continued to dominate the headlines in 2017 across Canada: opioid toxicity deaths, fear of terrorism, worries about gun violence. We have adjusted our training and practices to consider these and other evolving issues.
- Celebration of important milestones: We were there in force for this year’s Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, we stood solemnly in the rain for the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, and we proudly escorted and gave Nova Scotia’s Christmas tree gift to Boston and celebrated our nation’s 150th anniversary.
We also said good-bye to some colleagues who have gone on to significant positions elsewhere: Superintendent Sean Auld who was seconded to the RCMP in Ottawa as the director of International Peace Operations, Ms. Theresa Rath who left HRP to join the Halifax International Airport Authority as its Director of Communications, Deputy Chief Bill Moore who retired to become the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), Inspector Julia Cecchetto who retired to become Nova Scotia’s first female police chief in Kentville and Inspector Lindsay Hernden who also retired to join Nova Scotia Sheriffs.
In 2018, we expect to continue to be fully engaged with our communities through our various initiatives and activities in addition to hosting Canada’s police chiefs and senior executives at the annual CACP conference in August, co-hosted by HRP, Halifax District RCMP and the Canadian Forces Military Police. No doubt 2018 will also bring us its share of surprises, challenges and unexpected events. And we will be there with our communities for those times as well.
On behalf of my wife, Marianne, my daughters Victoria and Rebecca, as well as my son Jean-Cédéric, I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Holidays. May your 2018 be graced with wonder, peace and happiness.