Independent police station opens office in NB
The government of New Brunswick has reached an agreement with Nova Scotia to allow that province’s Serious Incident Response Team to open an office that would investigate serious incidents involving police in New Brunswick, according to a joint press release from the New Brunswick government. government.
The deal reinforces an agreement in principle reached between the two provinces in September 2021. Since then, officials from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have been working together to “ensure that the right legislative and policy frameworks are in place” for the team to operate in New Brunswick.
The Ministry of Justice and Public Security was asked for an interview and to provide further information on the costs involved in setting up the new office, but had not provided this at the time of publication.
Until now, New Brunswick has depended on outside agencies to investigate when there was a serious incident involving the police.
The Nova Scotia-based response team has always been the go-to agency, but it didn’t always have the manpower to take on investigations in New Brunswick, forcing the province to look elsewhere, including in two high-profile cases in 2020.
Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi were both shot several days apart by police in June 2020.
New SIRT office for NB
The Serious Incident Response Team is an independent, citizen-led agency that investigates incidents arising from police actions, including death, serious injury, sexual assault, domestic violence and “other matters of significant public interest”.
Under the new agreement between the provinces, a bilingual office will be opened in New Brunswick that will provide researchers from New Brunswick. Among other things, the agency will have a new deputy director, three detectives and an administrative assistant.
“Investigations under the agreement will begin once the new premises are leased, new positions filled and New Brunswick investigators trained,” the press release said.
Both provinces will “share the costs, resources and benefits of this collaboration,” but the Director of the Nova Scotia Response Team “remains responsible for the organization’s activities in both provinces and has sole authority to decide whether to charge being submitted.”
Public Security Secretary Kris Austin said the New Brunswick office is “necessary to build public trust in the police. Residents want to know that there are checks and balances for police powers, along with accountability.”
He said the agreement “guarantees impartiality and fairness in investigations involving a New Brunswick police officer.”
Nova Scotia Attorney General and Attorney General Brad Johns said expanding SIRT “promotes public safety and increases public confidence that investigations of alleged police misconduct are conducted efficiently and professionally.”
Several cases are still pending
Last year, SIRT took up several New Brunswick cases, four of which are still pending. In one case two RCMP officers were acquitted after a shooting, in another case an RCMP officer was acquitted after attempting to help a teenager in mental distress, and in the third case SIRT recommended charges against an officer.
Among the pending cases is a case in which a man died after being arrested. Another investigation started after a person in mental distress and an officer were injured during an altercation. A third involves an officer who was injured while restraining a man who was arrested under the Detention of Intoxicated Persons Act.
And just last week, New Brunswick’s RCMP asked SIRT to investigate what happened after a man was found dead when police executed a search warrant.
RCMP officers, including the emergency response team, went to a rural seasonal camp in the woods at Rivière-Verte, about 10 miles southeast of Edmundston, on the evening of February 3. They were there to execute a search warrant related to a firearms complaint, according to the RCMP.
Officers on the scene heard gunshots “fired from inside the camp at the officers present,” according to a press release.
The officers then entered the home and found a 37-year-old man dead.