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RNC chief says non-confidence vote is an attempt to discredit and intimidate him

RNC Chief Joe Boland. TELEGRAM FILE PHOTO
RNC Chief Joe Boland. TELEGRAM FILE PHOTO

A reported 90 per cent of officers who voted don't have faith in Joe Boland's leadership

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Tara Bradbury

The Telegram

tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com

@tara_bradbury

It was one question, asked to members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association (RNCA) last month in an online vote, that RNC Chief Joe Boland says represents an attempt to discredit, intimidate and coerce him.

“Do you have confidence in the leadership of the chief of police?”

The association had asked its members to take part in the anonymous vote by logging into its website and choosing a simple yes or no. The reason, it said, was ongoing concerns raised by members about Boland’s leadership.

Though the association had not yet released the results of the vote, an ex-RNC officer, known for often posting internal information on social media, tweeted Friday afternoon that 90 per cent of the officers who took part expressed a lack of confidence in Boland.

That prompted Boland to issue a news release, in which he said the vote had been “engineered” as a scheme by the association executive.

“I am fully confident that by calling and promoting this non-confidence vote among RNC officers, the RNCA executive is seeking to discredit and impair my ability as chief to adequately and properly fulfil my obligations to the public as well as to all RNC members,” Boland wrote. “Simply put, this vote has been promoted by a few individuals who wish to avoid accountability, and by some other officers who oppose the progressive and necessary changes I have made to date within the RNC.”

The vote deflects from the accountability of a “small but noisy minority of members,” wrote Boland, who joined the RNC in 1983 and was named chief in 2017.

“It is also an attempt to dismantle the clear accountability of the RNCA executive by implying that my style of management is the large, if not the only, issue.”

Boland said he has no problem with the association acting to protect its members. What he does take issue with, he said, is “an RNCA executive that turns its attention to actions which seek to intimidate and coerce me from properly fulfilling my mandate out of fear of being demonized or criticized publicly for doing what the law mandates me to do as the chief of police.”

The RNCA told its members in an email when the vote began that the results would not remove Boland from his position, but that the executive would use the results to further advocate for its members.

Boland said in his written statement he will continue to serve as chief and would not make any further comment until an internal process to address the issue is completed.

The vote follows months of rumblings of tension within the force, with multiple sources alleging issues of low morale and intimidation related to Boland’s leadership.

The RNCA’s 2019 Workplace Satisfaction and Engagement Survey indicated 48 per cent of respondents had replied to the statement, “I feel I can initiate a formal recourse process (e.g. grievance, complaint, appeal) without fear of reprisal,” with, “Strongly disagree.”

Thirty-eight per cent said they strongly disagreed with the statement, “In my work unit, unsatisfactory employee performance is managed effectively.”

The RNCA has not yet returned a request from The Telegram for comment. Justice and Public Safety Minister Andrew Parsons has agreed to an interview on Monday.

Sources say the association had brought the vote results to the minister earlier in the week. It’s believed the RNCA had been preparing to inform its members of the vote outcome when the information was leaked to former RNC sergeant Tim Buckle, who tweeted it.

The association has reportedly still not confirmed the vote results to its members.

Buckle, who, like Boland, was once head of the RNCA, retired from the RNC following a controversy in which he tipped off a fellow officer about an investigation into indecent calls made from the officer’s cellphone. An internal investigation cleared Buckle of any breaches of law or police policies. Since his retirement, Buckle has often criticized Boland on social media.

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