Earlier today The Coast published a thoroughly-researched, investigative article written by Hilary Beaumont looking at the harassment faced by two local women. You can, and should, read the full piece here if you haven’t already. The story outlines how police and health services have mishandled these women’s cases for over two years.
About an hour ago, Halifax Regional Police took what they call the “unprecedented step” of making their response to The Coast and Beaumont public. You can read that document here.
For the two women involved, the authorities that are built to protect them have failed in many ways. There are, and will be, frank discussions about those failures in the weeks to come. But we wanted to address a particular part of HRP’s response as we feel it’s misleading to the public.
Near the end of their statement, police “respectfully ask that in future you give us more than 24 hours to meet your deadline on detailed matters.”
Hilary contacted HRP for an official response on Thursday of last week, around lunchtime. Per their request, she subsequently emailed what she was looking for to HRP’s media contact, stating her deadline was end of day Friday. She was told 48 hours notice would, in the future be preferred. Police sent that official response by 5pm on Friday. Hilary also let them know via email that if they needed more time, we’d accommodate that.
Nicole, the subject of the story, had let her assigned detective and CyberSCAN officer know she was speaking to The Coast two weeks ago.
The Coast usually has firm deadlines for the start of the week, but given the size and scope of this piece, we were making changes almost up to the minute before it was sent to the printer last night. A note from our lawyer yesterday morning strongly suggested police be contacted for a follow-up statement on one point in particular, which Hilary phoned about and did receive. This was last-minute, and not ideal for anyone, but necessary. Had HRP not responded, that paragraph would have been omitted.
There are schools of thought in journalism on when “officials” should be contacted in the story process for comment. Some reporters make that their first phone call, some their last. Regardless of either strategy, we feel Hilary Beaumont gave Halifax Regional Police adequate time to respond to her questions. One hopes they were already familiar with this case, and were asking questions of themselves about how it was handled.
Beyond that, the police are a public entity, paid for by you and me, that are in service to the community. It is their media team’s job to respond to media requests. That’s likely not always an easy task, especially on days when there’s other prominent news stories breaking. We don’t mean to condemn the work Halifax Police or Cst. Pierre Bourdages have done to help us write this article. It is the work of the police in dealing with Nicole and Kim that should be examined.
We stand by our feature and by Hilary Beaumont’s writing.
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