“There’s no way I can put sugar on this,” deputy Halifax police chief Bill Moore said this morning on CBC’s Information Morning. He was responding to The Coast’s "The always-on stalker" investigation, published yesterday, which details how police mishandled the ongoing case of two women—known in the story as Nicole and Kim—who are being harassed online and off. You can listen to the entire CBC interview, which I participated in, here.
“I guess the best thing I can say is that it’s probably not our best effort,” he said. “I don’t think there was anything in there that an officer purposefully did, but there were certainly areas that cause us some concern.”
On Friday when Moore first looked at the files, the first thing he did was assign a senior staffer to look them from an investigative standpoint, he told Information Morning host Don Connolly. Moore says he also brought the officers who dealt with the stalker case together under the senior officer.
“The second thing I’ve asked as a result of that is to look not only at the investigation and the facts of this case, but the overall alignment, if you will, on investigative process for these.”
“I think there’s a quote in the article that talks about, these are complicated matters, but they’re not impossible. And when I looked at it quickly, there seems to be a few things, as I said, we probably could be doing better.”
When Connolly asked Moore if police have the tools to deal with situations like Nicole and Kim’s, the deputy chief said: “Well there are tools there, I can’t cry to say we don’t have tools. We do have tools. Do we have all the tools? No, maybe we need a few of them a little bit sharper.”
He said police who have the tools to deal with complaints like this one “may not be on the front lines,” so there is “obviously” a training issue there. The department also needs to make sure they are aligned with outside and internal agencies, Moore said.
Police have been working on their approach toward victims, including the way they ask questions of complainants, he continued.
“We may not be able to lay a charge, we may not be able to arrest somebody, but we should be able to explain and keep that victim up-to-date on what’s going on in the file.”
Nicole’s response to police
The Coast has kept in touch with the two women since the story broke yesterday. Nicole, the primary complainant in the story, listened to Moore’s interview today and says she still doesn’t have faith in the police department.
Nicole, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, believes police will likely treat her case more carefully now that they face public scrutiny, but says other women with similar cases shouldn’t expect the same. “I don’t feel optimistic about other women going to police.”
She hopes public pressure will help create better laws and keep police in check, however she remembers, “that’s what we thought after the Rehtaeh Parsons case.”
“I don’t want to say I don’t have hope,” she says. “I want the laws to change and I know it’s going to be a slow process.”
Nicole also wanted to clarify some aspects of yesterday’s police release. “There’s a bunch of contradictory things with the statement that they made.”
For example, the release states, “It wasn’t until July, when the actual complainant contacted police asking about the status of the file, that we realized our mistake.” However, Nicole points out, it was actually CyberSCAN investigator Dana Bowden who revealed the mistake by calling police repeatedly about her file.
The release describes “a very strong relationship” between the Halifax police and CyberSCAN. But, Nicole emphasizes, if that were true Bowden would have been able to reach the detective on her case two months earlier when her file was initially closed. Bowden told Nicole it wasn’t until her boss contacted the investigator that he finally returned her call.
The Coast requested an interview with Bowden during our investigation, however CyberSCAN declined to make her available.
Nicole is thankful to all the people who shared her story in a positive way. “I really believe now it’s the only way to have any change happen. I hope it has momentum and it just doesn’t disappear after a little while.”
She wouldn’t have gone public with her story, she says, if her friends weren’t encouraging and supportive. Now she says, “The more people who come out and speak about it the better.”
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