Readers are calling for change and the government is promising it following last week's cover story investigation by The Coast into how public systems failed to respond to two women who are being relentlessly harassed online and off.
The Coast has kept in touch with the two women, known in the story as Nicole and Kim, who are not on social media. When Nicole heard of the online response to the story, she said she was grateful to those who shared her story in a positive way.
But Nicole isn't holding out hope that the Halifax police department, the story's primary target of criticism, will change. "That's what we thought after the Rehtaeh Parsons case," she says. Nicole believes police will likely treat her more carefully now that they face public scrutiny, however, "I don't feel optimistic about other women going to police."
In a sit-down interview Tuesday, deputy police chief Bill Moore says changes are coming. He assigned a senior investigator to Nicole's case with two responsibilities: to ensure it has been investigated completely, and to do an overview of any mishaps during the case. The results of the overview will be made public and it shouldn't take more than two weeks, Moore says.
The department is training officers on how to better respond to victims, including how to ask questions to minimize any trauma they are experiencing. The next block of mandatory training for all 522 officers is scheduled for January.
Moore also says it's not enough to train officers in this manner—the department also needs to change how it operates. Moore says he will be able to nail down specifics once the overview of Nicole's case is finished.
During question period Tuesday, MLA Lenore Zann asked justice minister Lena Diab about The Coast investigation. Zann mentioned CyberSCAN's Roger Merrick had said there's a need for police to learn more about crime that happens over the internet.
Diab said she was not aware of Nicole's case prior to publication. The justice department is having meetings with the RCMP and Halifax police, she says. "They are all on board, they all view this as very serious and they are doing everything they can not only to educate their own police forces but also the public and everyone else."
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