Halifax Regional Police Service is unique in Canada. Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is one of the few municipalities that has a fully employed police service (Halifax Regional Police), and a contracted police service (RCMP), serving the same municipality.
Halifax Regional Police (HRP), is responsible for policing the urban core of the municipality as well as the area known as the Sambro Loop and the Purcells Cove – Herring Cove Loop. HRP has a long history featuring many firsts in Canadian policing. It was originally established in 1864, but the area has been policed since 1749 – one month after the City of Halifax was founded.
Since its formation, HRP has been at the centre of many firsts in Canadian policing history. In 1793, Canada’s first traffic violation was issued to George Weiss of Halifax for “disorderly riding in the streets.” In 1862, HRP received the first telegram to a police department – helping to warn them of criminals headed their way. In 1934, Halifax became the first city in Canada to introduce radio patrol cars to their fleet.
Halifax Regional Police also have a long and successful partnership with Commissionaires. Superintendent Don MacLean, Executive Officer to the Chief of Police, estimates that Commissionaires have been working at HRP for more than 40 years, performing non-core police services.
With a history that predates any of the current staff, it’s difficult to say exactly when and why HRP began their collaborative working relationship with Commissionaires, but MacLean believes that the initial challenges were likely related to resource issues and cost constraints. “It’s a long-standing relationship we have with Commissionaires,” says MacLean. “We have approximately 38 Commissionaires full-time and that helps us keep our officers out in the community.”
Commissionaires perform document serving and criminal records checks, and transcribe Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) information and enter it into the national police database. They also provide fingerprinting services and manage HRP’s online incident reporting system. Commissionaires even operate one of the police boats!
MacLean says, “If we didn’t have Commissionaires performing non-core police services for us, we would need to hire 38 staff, which could create significant budget implications for us.” “In the past, as we have taken on new functions and new opportunities such as criminal records checks, we have Commissionaires fulfill those requirements. As we consider taking on added responsibilities, for example, if photo radar was implemented, we automatically explore the possibility of using Commissionaires to perform all or part of the related functions,” says MacLean. Commissionaires work full-time, and in some roles, such as CPIC transcription, they are available 24/7. “Having Commissionaires readily available to work in so many areas saves us time and money,” says MacLean.
HRP is extremely pleased with the high level of customer service provided by Commissionaires. “They are part of our police family and they’re respected in our operations. They’re the first line of contact in many areas and people are accustomed to them being there,” says MacLean. Some Commissionaires assimilated so well that twelve went on to become employees at HRP serving in a number of different roles. In addition, five other Commissionaires underwent rigorous police training and became police officers with the department.
Superintendent MacLean is especially pleased with the accountability and discipline he sees in Commissionaires. “Commissionaires are professional, reliable and highly trained,” he says. MacLean hopes to continue the long history of HRP working closely with Commissionaires to ensure non-core police services continue to be provided in a cost effective and efficient manner, which helps keep police officers out in the community protecting and serving the citizens of Halifax Regional Municipality.