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RNC needs fixing, politicians agree

Discontent within the ranks of the RNC has politicians talking about what to do about it.
Discontent within the ranks of the RNC has politicians talking about what to do about it.

Opposition Leader Paul Davis says he, too, is hearing about problems within the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, and he hopes a new chief will fix things.

Davis, a former constable with the RNC, spoke to The Telegram this week after the paper published a story about internal complaints of favouritism, micromanaging and dysfunctional management practices within the RNC.

“There’s no doubt that today there’s a great level of concerns within the RNC,” Davis said. “I’ve heard it. I hear it from officers who are veterans — been around for many years — and I hear it from younger officers.”

The RNC has been battered by multiple criminal investigations against officers, as well as a case where an officer was charged with sexually assaulting a woman while on duty — a matter that is still making its way through the courts.

There’s also a lawsuit filed by officer Tim Hogan against senior RNC officers and the police force generally, in which Hogan alleges he was subjected to bullying and harassment on the job.

Multiple sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, spoke to The Telegram about malicious internal investigations against people who fall out of favour with management, and favouritism when it comes to the people who get promoted in the RNC.

Chief Bill Janes is scheduled to retire at the end of the month, and one of the two deputy chiefs with the RNC is also leaving soon.

When The Telegram spoke to Justice Minister Andrew Parsons last week, he said the process of selecting a new chief is underway, with the province’s Independent Appointments Commission drawing up a list of names to be sent to cabinet.

But at the same time, Davis said he has concerns.

“My understanding is that the RCMP are somewhat involved in the selection of the next chief of the RNC. I don’t think that’s the right process,” he said, explaining that the RNC and RCMP should be independent, distinct police forces, albeit with some joint operations.

On that point, Parsons said the RCMP involvement is with the Independent Appointments Commission, but it’s strictly non-political.

“Basically, this is to keep me out of the process,” Parsons said.

“Peter Clark, who is the assistant commissioner of the RCMP, is playing a role in a technical advisory capacity.”

NDP MHA Gerry Rogers said the government needs to go much further than just replacing the chief, and even further than instituting a civilian-led investigative agency to handle situations where officers are accused of serious crimes.

Rogers said she would like to see the government create some sort of police services board — basically a civilian board of directors that works with the chief of police on policy and budgetary issues.

“Policing should not be separate from the community that it serves, and the community must have a hand in directing how we’re going to do our policing,” Rogers said.

“I believe that modern policing requires that, and particularly to maintain trust in our policing.”

Parsons said he’s open to that sort of idea, but some sort of serious incident response team is the priority. He said a civilian oversight board would be a much bigger change that would need plenty of study.

“That is on my radar, and I’d like to look more into it,” he said.

“It’s one thing to come up with that idea, but I like the idea of looking at other jurisdictions and looking at what are the pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses.”

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