Halifax Regional Police chief Dan Kinsella is retiring at the age of 57. The move—announced right before Thursday’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting—comes four years into Kinsella’s reign as the city’s top cop, and his last day will be Sept. 15. It's a bit of an unexpected and abrupt exit for Kinsella, but if Chadwick Boseman taught us nothing else, it may be unwise to speculate on why.
Kinsella leaves the job amid notable unpopularity, with 97% of his workforce voting to oust him in November 2022 (a PR move, as the union has no say in hiring or firing the chief). We, the people of Halifax, choose the police chief. We do so through the HRP’s civilian oversight body, the Board of Police Commissioners. So now might be a good time to write to the board (in particular, the members who are city councillors —Becky Kent, Lindell Smith and Lisa Blackburn—or via the clerks) to tell them what you would want in a new police chief.
One of the union's main complaints against Kinsella in the performative vote of non-confidence was a lack of resources to effectively police. But as The Coast has covered before, this lack of resources has a lot to do with what we expect the police to do, and how we build our cities. But on both of those fronts, the city deserves a lot of credit for its foresight and planning. Police are overworked because they are relied on too heavily to cover a whole slew of public safety issues that do not require body armour, cuffs or a gun. So the city is fundamentally rethinking the municipal approach to public safety.
And police are often under funded because single-family, detached-home suburbs are too fiscally unsustainable to be supported by property taxes. A little bit of Canadian civics 101: Property taxes are a municipal government’s only reliable form of revenue. In Halifax specifically, the provincial property tax cap costs the HRM about $100 million in revenue. And on top of that, a lot of public land has been designed—on purpose—to be a massive public money sinkhole where taxes go to disappear. Again, to the city’s credit, council is actively planning to change that bleak outlook with the ongoing Regional Plan Review.
Not much came out of Thursday’s board meeting besides Blackburn being sent to Bridgewater to be Halifax’s rep at the Nova Scotia Association of Police Governance Conference.