By Terry Loder
Imagine you witness what you believe to be unprofessional conduct, or what may be a criminal act, by a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary member. You feel compelled to report the incident and make a formal complaint to the RNC Public Complaints Commission.
Imagine the chief of police tells you that an investigation was completed and there was a lack of evidence to support your complaint. Imagine that you have the gumption to appeal that decision.
Some months later, you are notified that the Public Complaints Commission has completed its investigation and has referred the appeal to an adjudicator who will conduct a public hearing into the complaint. Finally, imagine that — having never been in a courtroom or attended a judicial hearing in your life — you have taken unpaid leave from work and travelled from Corner Brook to St. John’s, knowing you are not seeking any financial gain, but are attempting to be a role model to your children regarding civic responsibility.
Imagine that after attending the first day of the hearing in December 2012, you read the following report from the CBC:
“The president of the union representing Royal Newfoundland Constabulary members says a current case before a complaints commission has become a waste of time and money. Sgt. Tim Buckle, who leads the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association, came to that conclusion after sitting in on a hearing that began Tuesday. ‘We’re sitting here today with six lawyers, billing by the hour, creating a substantial expense to the taxpayers, and (putting) the complainants and the police officers through additional stress and time frame that isn’t necessary.’”
He was also quoted as saying, “All of the people involved, at the end of the day, the lawyers get rich.”
Since that time the public complaints commissioner, chief of police, RNC, justice officials and lawyers attending the hearings, have not — to my knowledge — made any public response to these comments. Do all of these professionals believe the comments were appropriate and justified?
Is the judicial inquiry underway considered lower in stature than a provincial court case and thus not worthy of the same level of respect?
I hope the chief of police, justice officials and the public complaints commissioner will finally make a pubic response. Their “no comment” is threatening the integrity of the judicial system.
Finally, why does Sgt. Buckle show so little respect for the rights of a citizen before the Public Complaints Commission, while his association’s website says it is “supporting changes to the RNC Act and regulations that will allow police officers to make public complaints” to the very same commission?
Terry Loder writes from St. John’s.