RNC under criminal investigation

James McLeod
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Independent outside unit looking at actions of constabulary leadership

Premier Dwight Ball was tight-lipped Thursday about an out-of-province police force reportedly investigating senior managers in the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) for criminal wrongdoing.

Andrew Parsons.

Ball promised that the report of the Nova Scotia Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) will be made public, if not right away, then shortly after it’s completed.

“One thing to consider is allowing the appropriate time to make sure that those that are impacted would have the appropriate time to do the necessary response to that,” Ball said. “But we would make this publicly available as quickly as possible.”

On Wednesday evening, CBC News reported that SIRT was called in to Newfoundland and Labrador in November to conduct an investigation relating to criminal wrongdoing by senior members of the constabulary.

SIRT director Ron MacDonald said he’s unbothered by media reports about a criminal investigation involving senior members of the RNC.

MacDonald confirmed he’s been in the province and investigators came back to keep working after Christmas.

According to the CBC report, the matter concerns a criminal informant working for the RNC, who “continued to commit crimes without being arrested — even though some of the incidents were witnessed by police officers.”

MacDonald said the investigation is relatively complex, and he can’t give a clear timeline of how long it will take to complete.

“It’ll be a matter of some months before it’s concluded. I can’t really say how many,” he said.

If such an investigation was taking place in Nova Scotia, MacDonald said, at the end of it there would be a public report filed by the SIRT.

In this case, though, the report will be delivered to the Department of Justice and Public Safety and it will be up to the government to decide when to make it public.

It appears Justice and Public Safety Minister Andrew Parsons was briefed on the matter in December, shortly after he assumed the role as minister.

In briefing notes obtained by The Telegram through access to information, there is a two-page note about SIRT, referencing the fact MacDonald recently visited the province to meet with officials in the Department of Justice and Public Safety as well as RNC and RCMP leaders.

“Recently, a number of high-profile cases in the province have raised concerns about whether the police can legitimately and impartially conduct criminal investigations into its own members or whether the RCMP and RNC can impartially conduct criminal investigations into the other force’s members,” the briefing note says. “These concerns come under greater scrutiny in cases where police actions have resulted in serious injury or death.”

The two preceeding pages of Parsons’ briefing materials are completely redacted. The department cited several sections of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act to justify the redactions, including a section which states that releasing the information could “reveal the identity of a confidential source of law enforcement information or reveal information provided by that source with respect to a law enforcement matter” and also “harm the conduct of existing or imminent legal proceedings.”

Parsons refused a request for an interview.

A spokesman emailed a statement from Parsons to The Telegram.

“I am respecting the investigative process that is currently underway and I am presently unable to comment on the specifics of the allegations that have been brought forward. However, I look forward to addressing this matter once that investigation is complete. It is of paramount importance to this government that the public have confidence in the administration of justice in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

jmcleod@thetelegram.com Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: CBC, Nova Scotia Serious Incident Response Team, Department of Justice and Public Safety The Telegram RCMP

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Policing Pickle
    January 15, 2016 - 10:36

    The alleged scenario probably happens all the time but on a much less severe level. The circumstances would be a case where the constable chooses not to lay a charge on a young (usually) man on the condition that he not re-offend - no file, no record. Whether the officer asks the former suspects or not they volunteer information on other crimes if only in appreciation for the policeman's kindness. However the situation can easily be corrupted where the informant is rewarded, not charged for other offences and the officer becomes his "handler". Not a nice arrangement for either party or the public.

  • Poor NL
    January 15, 2016 - 10:25

    HMMMM. Causing Death, C'mon its simple Informant for The RNC is let go wild , nuttin big, then he is out of control and kills someone? Guess Who? We need the resignation of the Chief? Right NOW!

  • BTO
    January 15, 2016 - 08:39

    Where's the Dunphey report?

  • Ed
    January 15, 2016 - 05:26

    David Cochrane reported that it was "top brass" at the RNC. Now we hear that it was "senior members of the RNC". I think that Cochrane was maybe overly dramatic, in implying that it went right to the top!

    • Doug
      January 15, 2016 - 07:45

      Well, I think we can assume that those among the "top brass" would also be senior members.